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Is Depression A Disability?

While some individuals with depression can sustain their functional abilities, for many, it becomes a significant barrier. Depression stands as one of the prominent causes of disability in the United States, with approximately 27% of diagnosed individuals encountering substantial challenges in both work and daily activities even with the mental health stigma. A depressed person often feels sad, hopeless, and inadequate. They may feel tired and experience decreased energy levels nearly or all of the time.

Is Depression A Disability? Yes depression can indeed qualify as a disability mental health disorder disability but obtaining approval for a long-term depression disability claim related to mental illness can be a challenging process. If your depression is interfering with your ability to work and complete your day-to-day activities, you may have a severe depression disability for which you can seek disability benefits. Seeking assistance from an attorney can be beneficial in navigating this uphill battle.

Depression Disability Benefits

What is Depression?

Depression refers to a serious medical illness accompanied by a “blue mood” or low mood. It can exist for a few months or an entire lifetime. People who suffer from depression and disability begin to lose interest in doing activities. They may go through phases of low self-esteem. Furthermore, their sleep may become affected, either with insomnia or excessive sleeping. People can get  depressed due to losing a family member or a close friend, losing a job, or many other reasons. 

While many people experience periods of feeling down, depression is a mood disorder that is indicated by persistent feelings of sadness, isolation, and agitation. People with depression experience decreased energy levels nearly or all of the time. These feelings interfere with one’s daily life and can lead to fatigue, sleeplessness, changes in appetite, and other symptoms that make it impossible to work. Treatment often requires therapy and/or medication. However, the diagnosis of “clinical depression” is different.

In clinical depression, you can become depressed without any known cause. The chemicals inside the brain that are responsible for controlling mood can become imbalanced, which results in depression. In clinical depression, you feel bad or sad, even if your life is going pretty well. People with clinical depression tend to suffer from more serious symptoms.

Types of Depression

Types of Depression include Major Depressive Disorder, Dysthymia, and Bipolar disorder.

  • Major Depressive Disorder disability– Symptoms include a feeling of worthlessness, guilt, sleep deprivation, appetite changes, difficulty concentrating, suicidal thoughts, constant sadness, fatigue, and other related symptoms every day.
  • Dysthymia– A mood disorder with symptoms that are similar to Major Depressive Disorder, but less severe.
  • Bipolar Disorder– Formerly known as manic depression, one has periods of mania and depression with this disorder. The manic episodes can result in high self-esteem, extreme talkativeness, lack of sleep, irritability, racing thoughts, and more. Someone who is manic may also engage in risky behavior like drug use and unprotected sex. Prolonged mania can result in psychotic episodes, hallucinations, and delusions and can last for a few hours, days, weeks, or months. Some people may have to be hospitalized. Treatment usually requires a combination of counseling and mood-stabilizing or antidepressant drugs.

Severe depression disabilities can have undesirable and potentially fatal consequences. Therefore, individuals facing such challenges can explore the option of seeking Social Security disability benefits for depression and related conditions.

What Are the Symptoms Of Depression?

Common symptoms of depression a mental illness that may impact your ability to work include:

  • Fatigue and lack of energy
  • Sleep disruptions, including oversleeping and insomnia
  • Feelings of sadness and hopelessness
  • Irritability
  • Social Isolation
  • Decreased motivation
  • Trouble concentrating, thinking, or remembering
  • Anhedonia (loss of interest in most or all activities)
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic headaches
  • Weight or appetite disturbance, including overeating or undereating
  • Mental confusion or distractibility
  • Decreased interest in performing daily activities at home and work
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Psychological impairment
  • ADHD – Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Decreased speech capability
  • Physical agitation, such as hand wringing or pacing

Understanding your eligibility to get disability rights for depression can help you evaluate the issues the disorder is causing you. There are specific symptoms that can make you eligible for SSDI. To qualify for Social Security benefits for depression or related ailments, you must show at least five of above symptoms. 

Can You Get Disability for Depression?

If you are unable to work entirely due to the effects of depression, your employer might offer disability benefits. Additionally, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has two programs that could be helpful:

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI):

  • If you’ve been unable to work for at least one year and made Social Security contributions through paycheck deductions during your last employment, you may qualify for SSDI.
  • The financial benefit varies based on the Social Security deductions paid while working, and the required work history depends on your age at the onset of disability.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI):

  • SSI for depression aids individuals facing financial hardship due to a disability by providing cash assistance for essential needs like food, clothing, and shelter.
  • Qualification is based on proof of low income and minimal assets. Unlike SSDI, SSI eligibility doesn’t mandate prior payment of Social Security deductions, making it accessible even without a job history.

If depression is preventing you from working for 12 months or more, you can file your claim to get Social Security disability benefits. Notably, disability policies, both short- and long-term, typically define disability initially as the inability to perform the material duties of your occupation due to a psychiatric or medical condition. After a period of typically 12, 24, or 36 months, the definition of disability often changes, and the insurance company will be considering whether your condition prevents you from performing the material duties of any other occupation for which you are reasonably qualified.

Does the ADA consider depression a disability?

According to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) a disability is defined as any physical or mental impairment that limits a major life activity. 

Clinical Depression is considered a psychiatric disability per the ADA. There is no doubt that depression can result in becoming disabled. but not everyone who suffers from it is protected. In general, the ADA is used on a case-by-case basis. Because no two people are the same, no two disabilities are either. There are many misconceptions about what depression is and how it affects people. Depression is a serious mental condition that can affect how a person functions in their daily life. 

In order for a person to be protected under the ADA, they must have at least one of the following:

  • A physical or mental impairment that prevents them from performing a major life activity
  • A medical history of suffering from a physical or mental ailment
  • The perception that you suffer from a physical or mental impairment

In order to be protected by the act, the person with depression must be able to prove that their condition hinders their job performance. The ADA does recognize that clinical depression is a permanent and serious condition, but if it does not affect your ability to perform major life activities or do your job, you will not be protected under the act. 

How To Apply For Depression Disability Benefits?

Prospective applicants have the option to submit their application for depression disability benefits (SSDI or SSI) conveniently through online channels. Utilizing this digital approach, you have the flexibility to complete the application form at your convenience. Additionally, if you encounter any challenges during the online process, reaching out to the SSA for scheduling assistance is an available recourse.

Within the application form, it is essential to provide a comprehensive account of how depression has impacted various aspects of daily life. This encompasses detailing the effects on daily activities, social interactions, concentration levels, and the ability to meet deadlines. It is crucial to articulate the frequency with which symptoms of depression disrupt different facets of life in the form.

If you or a loved one is experiencing depression and seeking disability benefits, obtain the necessary support and legal representation from the St. Petersburg Disability Lawyers at Anderson & Ackerman Law Group.

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