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Postpartum Depression and SSDI benefits

If you have recently had a baby you may be surprised that you are experiencing not only the joy and excitement of parenthood but also severe depression. Postpartum depression should not be confused with mood swings or crying spells which can be common after childbirth.
English: Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions

The numbers of women that suffer from postpartum depression is unsubstantiated but can include a variety of symptoms, some of which are very severe including fatigue, low libido, crying episodes, sadness, and reduced appetite.

Another condition which is also associated with child-birth is postpartum psychosis. This condition is considered a different condition than postpartum depression but can cause severe psychotic symptoms including hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized speech patterns.

Treatment for Postpartum Depression

Experts agree that the sooner a mother can recognize that she has depression the better. There are a variety of treatment options that can effectively address depression following childbirth including counseling, which can include cognitive behavioral therapy, and anti-depression medication, which can include Prozac, Paxil, Celexa and Luvox.

Recent media attention to postpartum depression has heightened the awareness of this condition and has brought much needed attention to a condition that affects thousands of women each year.

Winning SSDI or SSI for Postpartum Depression

There are several basic requirements for winning SSDI or SSI benefits: the claimants condition must be expected to last for at least 12 continuous months, the condition must be severe, and the claimant must not be able to perform substantial gainful activity.

The disability criteria outlined above is the same for SSDI and SSI. Whether or not you will win SSDI is based on whether you meet the conditions identified above and whether you have sufficient work credits to be considered “insured” by the Social Security Administration (SSA). If you do not have enough work credits for SSDI than your only option will be to apply for SSI, which is only awarded to claimants with very limited income and resources.

So does the SSA consider postpartum depression a disability? Only if you can prove that it will last for at least 12 continuous months and will not allow you to work.

Meeting a listing for Postpartum Depression and proving you are disabled

The SSA has two methods for winning benefits for a condition. First you can either prove your condition and your corresponding symptoms meet or exceed a listing in the SSA listing of impairments or you can prove that you cannot work through a medical vocational allowance.

The good news is that the Social Security Administration (SSA) does have a listing under 12.00 for Mental Disorders, specifically 12.04 Affective Disorders. General symptoms on the SSA Listing of Impairments are listed below and you must have several of these conditions to be considered disabled.

• Anhedonia or pervasive loss of interest in almost all activities; or
• Appetite disturbance with change in weight; or
• Sleep disturbance; or
• Psychomotor agitation or retardation; or
• Decreased energy; or
• Feelings of guilt or worthlessness; or
• Difficulty concentrating or thinking; or
• Thoughts of suicide; or
• Hallucinations, delusions, or paranoid thinking
• Hyperactivity; or
• Pressure of speech; or
• Flight of ideas; or
• Inflated self-esteem; or
• Decreased need for sleep; or
• Easy distractibility; or
• Involvement in activities that have a high probability of painful consequences which are not recognized; or
• Hallucinations, delusions or paranoid thinking

What if you do not meet this listing? You will have to prove that your condition is so severe that you cannot work. This will be much more difficult and you may need the assistance of a disability lawyer.

Pregnancy and SSDI and SSI disability benefits

Many applicants have asked if they can get disability benefits for pregnancy. Unless you have a condition in addition to pregnancy you will be automatically denied. Pregnancy does not last for at least 12 continuous months it will not be considered a disability even if you cannot work.
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