February 7, 2011

Social Security Disability Benefits for Claimants with Depression

Indianapolis Social Security disability lawyer Scott Lewis is an experienced attorney representing Social Security disability claimants.  Many of his Indiana Social Security disability clients suffer mental disorders such as depression.  Often, disability claimants with depression do not have sufficient medical documentation to back up their Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim. Some disability claimants lack health insurance causing insufficient medical documentation.  Mr. Lewis advises his clients to investigate in the low income health programs or programs offered to uninsured individuals located in the Indianapolis area such as Wishard’s Health Advantage program.  Some other reasons disability claimants with depression may lack medical documentation supporting their claim is because a claimant may not be seeing doctors because they are ashamed of their disabling condition so they don’t seek the medical attention that they need from a mental health professional.  Having a lack of medical history to support your disability claim may ultimately cause you to lose your case.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) approves SSDI or SSI claims based on medical evidence, so if you are suffering from depression, it is important to seek out the opinion of a qualified mental health professional such as a psychiatrist or psychologist who will provide documentation to back up your claim.  It may be helpful that these professionals need to identify that:

  1. you are indeed suffering from clinical depression; and
  2. your depression significantly interferes with your ability to work.

If your mental health physician has prescribed you medication to help you with your depressive state, the SSA may frown upon your lack of compliance if you do continue to take your medications.  Medications such as anti-depressants may not enough to prove your case.  A psychiatrist can be most effective in helping you to demonstrate the following to the SSA:

  • The individual is depressed and suffering from a history of mental health issues related to his/her condition.
  • The disability claimant’s depression has been such that they have sought treatment from a qualified mental health professional.  The SSA will give most credence to a history of treatment supplied by a psychiatrist (MD) over a psychologist (PhD), so seeing a psychiatrist can carry more weight in the disability claim.  Many times, Indiana Social Security disability claimants are seeing both psychiatrist and a psychologist.  In most cases, this can only enhance your chances of a favorable outcome.
  • The mental health professional can provide detailed medical records documenting to what extent the depression limits the claimants work capacity, as well as past mental health treatment, and the specific nature of your psychiatric problems.

Depression is defined in the Social Security’s Listing of Impairments, Section 12.00 Mental Disorders.  In this section, the SSA more specifically defines Affective Disorders such as depression in Section 12.04.  As stated in Section 12.04, affective disorders are characterized 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.

Some characteristics of depressive disorder are:

  • loss of interest in almost all activities or decreased energy
  • change in appetite or change in weight
  • sleep disturbance
  • feelings of guilt, worthlessness or thoughts of suicide
  • difficulty thinking or concentrating

Some characteristics of manic syndrome are:

    • hyperactivity
    • inflated self-esteem
    • pressure of speech
    • easily distracted
    • decrease need for sleep

Indianapolis Attorney Scott D. Lewis often finds his clients experience depression in combination with other disabling conditions.  Whether depression is the primary disabling condition of your claim or simply a contributing factor to your impairment, it continues to be important to provide medical evidence supporting your disability claim.  Therefore, it may be in your best interest to see a psychiatrist if your depression has negatively affected your job performance or has caused you to be unable to work, as you will need the mental health professional(s) help when filing your SSDI or SSI claim.

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