August 11, 2011

Affective Disorders and Indiana Social Security Disability Benefits

Indianapolis Social Security disability lawyer Scott D. Lewis assists disabled individuals with their Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim.  In his disability law experience, Attorney Lewis represents disability claimants with a variety of disabling conditions including physical disabilities, mental disabilities, or a combination of conditions.  Among the variety of disabling conditions, Mr. Lewis has experience in representing individuals with affective disorders such as depression.

What is affective disorders?  Affective disorders are mental disorders that are characterized by extreme mood changes in a person.  Affective disorders may either be manic or depressive.  Manic affective disorders symptoms may include irritable or elevated moods with pressured speech, inflated self-esteem and hyperactivity.  Depressive affective disorders symptoms may include episodes of dejected mood with sleep disturbance, agitation, disinterest in life, and feelings of worthlessness or guilt.  Some individuals experience a combination of the two. Individuals with an affective disorder may or may not have psychotic symptoms such as delusions, hallucinations, or other loss of contact with reality.

How does an individual with an affective disorder qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits?  According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), individuals suffering from an affective disorder if he/she meets the requirements stated in the SSA’s “Listing of Impairments.”  In section 12.04 Affective Disorder, the SSA characterizes affective disorders by a disturbance of mood, accompanied by a full or partial manic or depressive syndrome. Mood refers to a prolonged emotion that colors the whole psychic life; it generally involves either depression or elation.

Per Section 12.04, the required level of severity for affective disorders is met when the requirements in both A and B are satisfied, or when the requirements in C are satisfied. These requirements are as follows: 

A.  Medically documented persistence, either continuous or intermittent, of one of the following:

1.  Depressive syndrome characterized by at least four of the following:

    • Anhedonia or pervasive loss of interest in almost all activities; or
    • Appetite disturbance with weight change ; or
    • Sleep disturbance; or
    • Psychomotor retardation or agitation; or
    • Decreased energy; or
    • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness; or
    • Suicidal thoughts; or
    • Hallucinations, delusions, or paranoid thinking; or
    • Decreased energy; or

2.  Manic syndrome characterized by at least three of the following:

    • Flight of ideas; or
    • Inflated self-esteem; or
    • Pressure of speech; or
    • Hyperactivity; or
    • Decreased need for sleep; or
    • Easily distracted; or
    • Involved in activities that have a high probability of painful consequences with are not recognized; or
    • Hallucinations, delusions or paranoid thinking; or

3. Bipolar syndrome with a history of episodic periods manifested by the full symptomatic picture of both manic and depressive syndromes (and currently characterized by either or both syndromes);

AND

B. Resulting in at least two of the following:

  • Marked restriction of activities of daily living; or
  • Marked difficulties in maintaining social functioning; or
  • Marked difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence or pace; or
  • Repeated episodes of decompensation, each of extended duration.

OR

C. Medically documented history of a chronic affective disorder of at least 2 years’ duration that has caused more than a minimal limitation of ability to do basic work activities, with symptoms or signs currently attenuated by medication or psychosocial support, and one of the following:

1. Repeated episodes of decompensation, each of extended duration; or

2. A residual disease process that has resulted in such marginal adjustment that even a minimal increase in mental demands or change in the environment would be predicted to cause the individual to decompensate; or

3. Current history of 1 or more years’ inability to function outside a highly supportive living arrangement, with an indication of continued need for such an arrangement.

Indianapolis individuals that suffer with an affective disorder that are unable to work due to this disabling condition, should not hesitate to apply for SSDI or SSI benefits.  Most social security disability attorneys or claimant representatives offer a free consultation.  

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