Social Security Disability Claims based on Depression
A person can win Social Security Disability benefits if they have been diagnosed with depression. Social Security has listing 12.04 in the Code of Federal Regulations that addresses the medical criteria that is required for a person to win disability benefits based on this impairment alone. Now with that in mind, the criteria are very high. This person must basically have a long history of inpatient psychiatric hospitalization and ongoing regular psychiatric or psychological treatment. They must have tried many different anti-depressants and/or psychotropic medications over the years and despite compliance with those treatments their depression levels must still be very high. Psychologists and psychiatrists often assign claimants what’s called the Global Assessment and Functioning Score or a GAF Score. According to the DSM4 a GAF score fifty or below is usually consistent with a very serious or extreme symptoms and according to Social Security a GAF score of that low rating will often be consistent with the inability to perform work activity.
It is very important when I have a case for depression to get all the psychiatric and psychological treatment records since the alleged onset date and also to have the current records indicate low GAF scores and severe symptomatology that’s either consistent with the listing 12.04 or at least it is consistent with the findings that the person could not perform any other work activity in the national economy because of the effects of their depression. I frequently give treating psychiatrists or psychologists a medical questionnaire that addresses the functional limitations that result from that person’s depression. It is not uncommon for that person to have a marketed or extreme degree of limitation in their ability to perform day-to-day work activities, cope with ordinary workplace stress, have ordinary social interactions with either coworkers or supervisors or sometimes these people have episodes of decompensation that can result in excessive absenteeism over the space of a year. I am also very particular about getting any emergency room records that document any suicide attempts or suicide ideation that person may have during their appeal for disability.
Finally, unfortunately, substance abuse can often be found within depression claims and so we need to make sure that theirs is no ongoing alcohol or substance abuse that may be contributing to the depression causing it to worsen. Now if we can’t prove that the person is disabled based solely on depression it almost always is a factor in the overall combined impairment claims and can play a part in limiting somebody in the type of work activity that that person can do so even if you don’t have severe depression we need to investigate that component of your claim because it may have an impact on your vocational capacity when combined with your other physical and mental impairments.