When disability strikes, it can sometimes take a while to realize that your life has changed dramatically.  In this article, we take a look at how that can affect your Social Security Disability claim- if at all.

Let's face it:  if you have been working, the loss of your job can be a tremendous blow.  Not being able to provide, not feeling like you are valuable, and wanting to pull your weight are all normal feelings to experience.  It can be devastating to lose your job, on so many levels.  Of course, there are those that are disabled because of profound and chronic depression as well.  So how does the Social Security Administration look at depression?

Depression, like many other disorders that the Social Security Administration looks at, is not always disabling.  But when depression makes all activities of daily living difficult, affects your home life and relationships, and prevents you from attending work on a regular schedule- it becomes quite debilitating.  And this is how the Social Security Adminstration will review your case if you claim disability.  The diagnosis alone is not enough for a finding of disability.  Rather, it is the effect that the depression has on the most relevant parts of your life:  self-worth, relationships and work.  When these areas become profoundly affected, disability is granted.

This is a very, very simple analysis of how depression is reviewed.  I'll come back at a later date and reference the exact symptoms that the SSA looks at when deciding disability based on depression.  For the time being, try to remember these things if you are thinking about a claim for disability:

  •     Get treatment from a psychiatrist (M. D.), psychologist (Ph. D) or licensed clinical social worker (LCSW).  Without treatment by a mental health professional, it can be very hard to convince the Social Security Administration that you are disabled.  In most cases, your family doctor will not be enough to substantiate a claim.  And, even if the SSA's doctor came to your aid, that one visit is only a snapshot.  The SSA wants to see a clear picture over time.
  •     Follow prescribed care.  If you do not do what the mental health provider suggests, the SSA can deny you on the grounds that you are 'noncompliant.'  This is especially true with medications.  If a doctor tells you take 4 pills a day, then do that.  If you have a problem with the medications prescribed, make sure you discuss that with the doctor- do not self medicate.
  •     NO ILLICIT DRUGS!  This is a difficult issue to overcome in Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income claims.   Why?  It is hard to tell which came first:  the addiction or the depression.  The Social Security Administration does not (usually) grant benefits in which addiction is the primary diagnosis. 

At Schad and Schad, we see the effects of depression on a daily basis.  It’s safe to say that almost all of our clients suffer some level of depression.  As always, drop us a line if you have any questions.  We'll be happy to help.

In Part 2 of this discussion on depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety, we'll talk about how the SSA evaluates claims on the basis of these problems.