Affective Disorders - Depression
Unlike a physical disorder, if you have an affective disorder such as depression it may not be obvious to the casual observer that you are suffering from a severe health condition and many SSDI claimants find they are not only having to provide evidence but also overcome a bit of skepticism about their ability to function. So what does the Social Security Administration (SSA) really need to find you disabled for a mental disorder?
Evidence for your Affective Disorder
If you have an effective disorder such as bipolar disorder or depression the SSA will expect for you to be under the care of a mental health doctor and to be following your doctor’s recommended treatment plan. So the first step to winning SSDI for an affective disorder is:
- See a mental health care professional
If you have consistently seen a mental health doctor, you will have medical documentation from your treating psychiatrists and psychologists and medical record documentation that your condition is severe, it has lasted for an extended period of time and it limits your ability to function.
- Make sure your medical records provide detailed information about your ability to engage in normal daily activities
To determine if you are disabled the Social Security Administration will review whether or not you can work a full time job. Your medical records may not detail your work abilities, but they probably will discuss your ability to perform routine daily activities. It is not unusual for a severely depressed claimant to lose the ability to function and perform normal daily tasks including bathing, sleeping, grooming or eating. Clear indications that you have lost the ability to perform routine tasks will be evidence that you could not function in a highly structured and demanding work environment.
Specifically, the SSA will review your ability to concentrate, follow directions, maintain a normal work day and work week, learn new tasks and get along with others.
- Medical evidence should detail episodes of decompensation
Episodes of decompensation are those periods of time that a previously functioning claimant may have a mental deterioration to a lower level of functioning and may require additional medical intervention such as increased medication, additional support systems or placement in a mental health facility.
The SSA recognizes that although claimants may be fine for a period of time if they continue to have frequent episodes of decompensation than their work ability is limited because employers want an employee who is consistent, reliable and ready to work every day. If you cannot perform your job at a consist level you will find it difficult to maintain employment.
- Include all conditions on your SSDI application which make it difficult to work
Many disability applicants who have a mental disorder fail to also include physical disorders on their SSDI application which limit their ability to work. Some severe physical conditions can actually contribute to conditions such as depression. It is important to list every condition you have that lowers your ability to work and allow the SSA to consider all of these conditions in their totality to determine if you have the residual capacity to work.
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