Depression disability is a mental disorder characterized by depressed mood that lasts. People often lose interest in activities they feel sad and hopeless, previously found pleasant, and suffer from low self-esteem. Their sleep is often disturbed with the person either suffering insomnia or sleeping excessively. Individuals have low energy and difficulty concentrating. These symptoms can either be chronic or cyclical. A depressed person has difficulty taking care of daily activities relating to others, and fulfilling their obligations. In the most severe cases, depression can even lead to the contemplation of suicide.
Most Depression is situational, with symptoms subsiding after a couple of days or a few weeks. In cases of Clinical Depression, however, hopelessness and depressed feelings become overwhelming and continue for long periods of time. Both genetic and environmental factors and by how a person has learned to take care of stress can cause depression.
How Depression Can Be Disabling
Many people suffer from depression associated with emotionally painful situations (the death of a loved one, divorce), but for the most part, these periods of depression will be situational and short lived. But if a person has an episode of depression with severe daily symptoms last for two weeks or more, their condition may be considered to be major clinical depression. Major depression interferes with a person’s ability to cope with daily stresses and obligations, often rendering an individual unable to operate in their everyday life, including work and family activities.
What causes depression? There seem to be genetic and biological factors, as well as environmental factors. Individuals can be predisposed to depression and the condition is seen among several members. Pressure and other factors can also be linked to depression.
Disability Benefits for Depression
To qualify for disability benefits, an individual with depression must either meet certain specific disability criteria (found in Social Security’s impairment listing manual), or be granted a medical-vocational allowance based on the severity of their depression and a combination of other factors (such as other impairments, work history, age, and level of education).
Disability Listing for Depression
Social Security publishes a list of serious illnesses that qualify for disability if they meet the criteria. The objective of the list is to be able to grant disability fast for impairments that are severe. Depression is covered in Social Security’s impairment listing 12.04, Depressive, Bipolar and Related. The listing has a list of problems and a list of symptoms you must have. First, you must show by having at least five of the following symptoms, you have serious depression to qualify for Social Security disability or SSI disability benefits on the basis of depression:
- depressed mood
- Decreased interest in almost all activities
- Appetite disturbance (poor appetite or overeating) resulting in a change in weight
- sleep disturbance (insomnia or oversleeping)
- Difficulty concentrating or thinking
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Thoughts of death or suicide, and/or
- A slowing of physical movement and reactions, including speech, or disturbance that is increased, such as hand wringing or pacing.
In addition to having at least five of the above symptoms, you must also meet “functional” criteria to show that you have a loss of abilities due to the mental disorder. Generally, you need to have an extreme limitation in at least one of the following areas, or a “marked limitation in at least two of these areas:
- Understanding, remembering, or applying information (the ability to understand instructions, learn new things, apply new knowledge to tasks, and use judgment in decisions)
- Interacting with others (the ability to use socially appropriate behaviors)
- Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace in performing tasks (the ability to complete tasks), and/or
- Adapting or managing oneself (having practical personal skills like paying bills, cooking, shopping, dressing, and practicing good hygiene).
Symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder
Symptoms of a significant depressive disorder, commonly called Major Depression or Depression, vary among individuals. However, most people find that the symptoms sap their ability and desire to take part in daily living activities, even those they most enjoyed. An inability to focus sadness, irritability, and feelings of worthlessness, lack of sleep, feelings of fatigue and apathy, or even thoughts of suicide, are common among depressed people. The terms mild to describe the depression’s severity are often used by psychiatrists.
Three Types of Depression Disability
The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), on which Social Security bases its disability listings, describes three distinct depressive disorders that can be debilitating and interfere with an individual’s ability to work, attend school, or interact socially with others.
Major Depressive Disorder
According to the DSM, for a diagnosis of clinical depression, symptoms such as feelings of guilt or worthlessness, changes in appetite and sleep patterns, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, suicidal thoughts, and/or constant sadness must be present every day for at least two weeks. Read our article on getting disability for depression.
This sort of depression disability has many of the same symptoms as Major Depressive Disorder, but the symptoms are usually less severe and occur over a period of at least 2 years. Find out.
Manic depression is characterized by periods of mania and depression, or intense highs and lows. Manic episodes cause an inflated sense of self-esteem, lack of sleep, extreme talkativeness, racing thoughts, irritability, and increased participation in risky behaviors (sex, drugs, and alcohol, for instance). Mania may or might not be followed by a period of depression.
Long-term disability for depression and anxiety
Long-term disability (LTD) insurers are generally reluctant to approve claims for benefits based on mental illnesses such as depression or bipolar disorder. If you’re receiving regular treatment your LTD carrier is likely to force you to plead your case on appeal and to deny your first application. In these difficult cases, it is critical to hire an experienced disability attorney who can guide you through the appeals process and, if necessary, file a lawsuit against your insurer.
Your Depression Disability Case
If you are disabled because of Depression that prevents you from working, you may well be entitled to Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits. Although you have to meet stringent requirements in order to receive total disability based on a diagnosis of, working closely with medical professionals and a qualified Social Security disability attorney or advocate to collect and present the appropriate documentation can ensure your Depression disability claim will have the best possible chance of success.