Can I Qualify for Disability Benefits in Arkansas with Depression?

Depression, and chiefly clinical depression, is a mental disorder that is often misunderstood. Depression as a serious medical condition that is sometimes called an affective disorder and is more than just feeling sad, blue or down momentarily. A major or clinical depression is characterized by a prolonged period, generally 2 weeks or more, of hopelessness, loss of interest in activities that used to be of interest, excessive sleep, insomnia, and loss of self-esteem. People suffering from moderate to severe depression often find themselves without the energy or the motivation to engage in activities of daily life.

While it can be difficult to receive SSD benefits for depression, it is possible in severe cases. Additionally, because the Social Security Administration will consider all of your impairments or disabilities, even a moderate depressive disorder in combination with another impairment may be sufficient to qualify for Disability Benefits in Rogers.

What are the symptoms of a major depressive disorder?

A major depressive disorder (MDD) is sometimes termed clinical depression. Clinical depression is defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) as having 5 of 9 of the following symptoms:

  • Decreased interest in activities that the individual once found pleasurable
  • A weight change of 5%, or more, without attempting to gain or lose weight
  • Depressed or irritable mood throughout the day for nearly every day
  • Thoughts of suicide, death, or a suicide plan
  • Diminished ability to concentrate or focus
  • Inappropriate feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in activity level

The DSM-V also adopts these signs and symptoms of depression choosing to refrain from disturbing the core criteria. But DSM-V also considers whether the symptoms experienced, “cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning.” Also within the criteria is the fact that the symptoms are not caused by a medication, drug, or medical condition.    One other change to the handling of MDD in DSM-V also includes that the striking of the bereavement exception where a person who presents with MDD within 2 months of the death of a loved one would not be considered to have MDD. HOwever, a mere diagnosis of depression is not enough, by itself, to qualify for SSD benefits.

How will the SSA consider my benefits claim if I have depression?

While depression is not specifically listed by the Social Security Administration, it is included under the Affective Disorders listed in section 12.04 of the SSA’s Listings. To meet or equal the listings, you must qualify through the A) criteria and either the B) or C) criteria.

To satisfy the A requirements, one must have a depressive syndrome that can be characterized by at least four of the following: a perceived loss of interest in all activities, a disturbance of appetite, sleep problems, changes to motor skills, decreased energy, excessive guilt or worthlessness, problems with concentration, suicidal thoughts, or hallucinations. In the alternative, if you are affected by a manic syndrome, you must be able to show three of the following:

  • Pressure of speech
  • Hyperactivity
  • Inflated self-esteem
  • Flight of ideas
  • Lack of a need for sleep
  • Easily distracted
  • Failure to recognize involvement in risky activities
  • Hallucinations or other delusional thinking

The final alternative to satisfy the A) requirements is to show a “bipolar syndrome with a history of episodic periods manifested by the full symptomatic picture of both manic and depressive syndromes.”

Furthermore, to qualify at the Listing Step 3, you must satisfy either the B) or C) requirements. The B) requirements are satisfied when at least two of the following limitations are shown due to the impairment or impairments. To satisfy the B) criteria one would need to prove that they have marked restrictions or difficulties in two of the following:  activities of daily life, social functioning, maintaining concentration focus or pace, or recurring extended episodes of decompensation.

The C) requirements require a benefits applicant to to prove a,  “Medically documented history of a chronic affective disorder of at least 2 years’ duration that has caused more than a minimal limitation of ability to do basic work activities, with symptoms or signs currently attenuated by medication or psychosocial support.” Furthermore, you must show at least one of the following:

  • Repeated extended decompensation
  • Where even a marginal increase in demands would result in decompensation
  • A documented history of 1 or more year where the individual cannot function outside of a highly structured living environment.

Conditions may also qualify you for SSD benefits is the SSA considers them to be a severe impairment and you can satisfy Steps 4 and 5 of the sequential analysis. Furthermore, even if you depressive condition or other affective disorder is not severe in itself, if you have other impairments the combined effect may be severe enough to qualify for SSD benefits.

To schedule your free and confidential Rogers SSD consultation call us at (479) 316-0438 or contact us online.