Depression is a common condition found in Social Security Disability claims. There are different degrees of depression
and may affect different people in different ways. Whether depression is your sole disabling condition or is just one
of your medical conditions you should make sure you submit all the appropriate medical evidence. Make sure your file
contains all ER visits and hospital stays for depression. You should also submit your treating psychiatrist, psychologist,
and therapist records. These records should contain any notes from sessions, any psychological testing, and any evaluations.
It is also crucial that you have RFC forms
filled out by your treating psychiatrist. These RFC forms are important because they will show the limitations you
have from your depression. The limitations from deprssion can be very helpful in proving you are disabled.
The limitations from depression can have a significant affect on your ability to perform all types of work. So why are
limitations from depression so important even if it is not your only medical condition. I will try and illustrate with
an example. Lets say you suffer from back pain due to herniated discs in your lumbar spine and as a result you developed
depression (this is very common). Lets say the limitations from your back conditions does not allow you to lift greater
than 10 pounds and generally limits you to sedentary work
. If you are under 50 years old or even if you are 50 years old and have prior sedentary work experience chances
are Social Security will find you could do sedentary work or your prior sedentary work and find you not disabled. However,
if you can show you have additional limitations from your depression (examples: memory difficulties, concentration problems,
difficulty dealing with people, maintaining a schedule) these type of limitations affect all types of jobs at all exertional
levels including sedentary jobs. If severe enough these limitations will reduce the number of jobs Social Security
will find you can do and give you a much better chance of being found disabled.Depression
and the medical listing of impairments.
If your depression is severe enough you may meet or equal
the listing for depression. If you meet or equal the listing than you will be found disabled. Below is the listing
most commonly used for depression. I strongly suggest you read the entire listing for mental disorders.
12.04 Affective disorders: 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.
required level of severity for these disorders is met when the requirements in both A and B are satisfied, or when the requirements
in C are satisfied.
A. Medically documented persistence, either continuous
or intermittent, of one of the following:
1. Depressive syndrome characterized
by at least four of the following:
a. Anhedonia or pervasive loss of
interest in almost all activities; or
b. Appetite disturbance with
change in weight; or
c. Sleep disturbance; or
d. Psychomotor agitation or retardation; or
Decreased energy; or
f. Feelings of guilt or worthlessness; or
g. Difficulty concentrating or thinking; or
Thoughts of suicide; or
i. Hallucinations, delusions, or paranoid thinking;
2. Manic syndrome characterized by at least three of the following:
a. Hyperactivity; or
Pressure of speech; or
c. Flight of ideas; or
d. Inflated self-esteem; or
e. Decreased need
for sleep; or
f. Easy distractibility; or
g. Involvement in activities that have a high probability of painful consequences which are not recognized;
h. 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);
B. Resulting in at least two of the following:
1. Marked restriction of activities of daily living; or
2. Marked difficulties in maintaining social functioning; or
3. Marked difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace; or
4. Repeated episodes of decompensation, each of extended duration;
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;
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.
Now you might read the above and be saying to yourself that you have what you need to meet the listing.
Keep in mind these listings are extremely hard to meet. It usually takes a doctor with a good understanding of the listing
and all supporting evidence in the file to find you meet the listing. If you think you meet the listing it would be
a good idea to bring a copy of the full listing for mental disorders to your doctor and ask him. If he thinks you meet
the listing ask him for a written statement outlining what listing and why and refrencing the medical evidence.
The most important thing to remember is that if you suffer from depression even if it is not your "main"
disability make sure to get your medical evidence for depression in the file. Make sure this evidence includes a mental
RFC from your treating psychiatrist.