Full width home advertisement

Post Page Advertisement [Top]

Depression and Work Functionality: The Primary Disability Concern

When it comes to Social Security disability cases, the main concern for the judge is whether your depressive symptoms prevent you from working a full-time job, regardless of the specific medical or mental health condition you have.

For instance, I have successfully won cases in Atlanta where a client’s moderate heart defect was not the main issue; rather, it was the severe anxiety and depression related to her condition that impaired her ability to concentrate at work. Conversely, I've seen cases denied where claimants had severe physical conditions, like three herniated discs, but could still perform minimally demanding jobs due to a high pain threshold.

In most depression-related disability cases, the judge’s decision hinges on whether you can handle a simple, sedentary job that requires no training, minimal interaction with coworkers or supervisors, is not production-oriented, and does not demand independent judgment. Examples of such jobs include:

  • Small parts assembler
  • Ticket taker at a movie theater
  • Surveillance system monitor
  • Hand packer

Typically, during hearings, a vocational expert will testify about your past work and the availability of simple, minimally demanding jobs in the national economy.

Depression and Work Functionality: The Primary Disability Concern

Essential Mental Health Disability Records

Winning a disability case involving depression often depends on comprehensive psychological or psychiatric treatment records that highlight specific work limitations. My role is to review all medical records and create a mental functional capacity checklist reflecting both your specific limitations and the Social Security Administration's impairment categories. This checklist is then completed by your doctor or counselor and submitted to the judge.

We do not ask your doctor to declare you “disabled,” as this is a legal decision for the judge. Instead, we request that they identify specific mental activity limitations.

Often, identifying work limitations is easier in mental health cases than physical impairment cases, as mental health professionals generally have a deeper understanding of their patients' issues. Your case is more likely to succeed if your psychologist or psychiatrist supports your disability claim and completes the necessary forms.

Emphasizing How Depression Affects Your Work

It is crucial to focus on specific symptoms of your depression that impede your ability to work. Judges frequently encounter claimants citing depression, anxiety, and chronic pain, so it’s important to emphasize symptoms that might cause you to miss work, have trouble concentrating, or struggle with interacting with coworkers or supervisors. Generic complaints are often discounted.

An insightful perspective comes from TV commentator Dick Cavett, who has discussed his own battle with depression:

"If you’ve never had it, you can never begin to imagine the depth of the ailment’s black despair. The malady doesn’t care if you’re broke and alone or successful and surrounded by a loving family. It does its democratic dirty work to your brain chemistry regardless of your position."

This quote highlights a key issue at hearings: educating the judge about the nature of depression, which can be due to emotional or physical trauma, or a blood chemistry issue.

Depressed patients often get used to their symptoms and might not mention them all to their doctors or the judge. I recommend keeping a diary of daily symptoms and asking for observations from family members. Additionally, side effects of depression medication, such as fatigue, concentration issues, and memory problems, can also limit your ability to work even in simple, unskilled jobs.

Determining the Start Date for Your Depression-Related Disability Claim

Many clients with depression have been diligent and hardworking in their careers. Judges understand that few would willingly trade the rewards of a fulfilling career for the fixed income of Social Security disability. Therefore, it is beneficial to testify about your efforts to continue working despite your depression and mood swings, highlighting a preference for your former lifestyle.

You might also be able to backdate your benefit payments if your last weeks or months of work were not typical of competitive employment. For instance, if your employer allowed extra absences or modified your job duties, the judge might conclude that you were not engaged in competitive work. Similarly, if you previously applied for benefits, were denied, and then tried to return to work unsuccessfully, you might be eligible for retroactive benefits.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Welcome to AI Disability Tips: Video Trailer

How to Find a Disability Attorney through your State Bar Association

34 Inch and 21 Inch Grabber Reacher with Rotating Jaw - Mobility Aid Reaching Assist Tool

34 Inch and 21 Inch Grabber Reacher with Rotating Jaw - Mobility Aid Reaching Assist Tool
Mobility Aid Reaching Assist Tool

Bottom Ad [Post Page]

Website | Designed by Colorlib