Social Security Disability Benefits for Depression or Bipolar Disorder
Suffering from an emotional illness, such as depression or bipolar disorder, can have a dramatic effect on every area of your life. In addition to your medical treatments and the impact it can have on your relationships, these conditions can prevent you from working and being able to provide for yourself. In these situations, social security disability benefits (SSDI) can help improve your financial security by making up for some of your lost wages.
At Krasno, Krasno & Onwudinjo, our Philadelphia social security disability attorneys have extensive experience in helping those in these situations. Serving clients in Pennsylvania for three generations, we provide professional legal representation to assist you in getting the benefits to which you are entitled.
SSDI Benefits Requirements for Mental Health Conditions
If you are battling with depression or bipolar disorder, it is important to realize that you are not alone. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), close to 44 million people in the United States seek treatment for these types of conditions each year. This represents roughly one out of every five people, or approximately 20% of the population.
For one out of every 25 working-age adults, or nearly 10 million people, these conditions are severe enough to interfere with their normal, daily activities. You may find yourself unable to get out of bed or attend to personal habits, such as providing meals for yourself or cleaning your home.
Social gatherings or visits to public places, such as grocery stores or restaurants, can be extremely challenging, as can dealing with traffic or even operating a vehicle. When your condition prevents you from working or holding a job, social security disability insurance (SSDI) can provide the lifeline you need.
Available through the Social Security Administration (SSA), social security disability benefits can help to replace income lost due to your inability to work. In some cases, it can also offer job retraining and employment support services which can help you supplement your benefits by returning to work on a part-time basis.
In addition to having a medically verifiable health condition that is considered a disability by the SSA, you are also required to meet certain income and work requirements. As a type of insurance, SSDI benefits are provided based on taxes you paid through your employer. To qualify, you must meet the following tests:
- Recent work test, which is based on your recent work history and the age at which you became disabled;
- Duration of work test, which requires you to work for a specific period of time at a job which pays into Social Security.
When you file an application for SSDI benefits, either online in your local SSA office, it will be assessed to ensure you meet the above qualifications. It is then passed along to state Disability Determination Services (DDS), which will make a decision on whether your condition qualifies as a disability.
SSDI Requirements for Depression and Bipolar Disorder
In a previous post, we discussed some of the various SSDI requirements for mental impairments. Being diagnosed by a doctor and receiving medication for depression or bipolar disorder is not enough to qualify for social security disability benefits. You must show that your condition is severe enough as to have a substantial impact on your life and abilities, and that it qualifies as a disability in that it prevents you from working or holding a job for an extended period.
Under SSA guidelines for medical providers and health professionals, medical documentation of certain types of symptoms is required for depression and bipolar disorders to be classified as a disability by the SSA. This includes:
Depression may be considered a disability when an individual exhibits five or more of the following symptoms:
- Depressed mood;
- Decreased energy;
- Lack of interest in usual activities;
- Appetite changes with resultant weight loss or gain;
- Sleep disturbances;
- Cognitive issues, such as problems thinking or concentrating;
- Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, or guilt;
- Lack of coordination and poor motor skills;
- Dwelling on thoughts of suicide or death.
For Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder may be considered a disability when an individual exhibits three or more of the following symptoms:
- Difficulty concentrating and being easily distracted;
- Speaking in a rapid or frenzied manner;
- Inflated sense of self-esteem;
- Fanciful notions and ideas;
- Decreased need for sleep;
- Engaging in activities that the individual fails to recognize as being reckless or dangerous;
- Hyperactivity and extreme focus on certain goals.
Medical documentation of the above may include hospital records, statements from doctors and therapists, diagnostic test results, and medical and health histories.
What if You are Denied Social Security Disability Benefits
NAMI statistics on SSDI indicate that as many as eight million people receive social security disability benefits as the result of mental health issues, such as depression and bipolar disorders. Unfortunately, as claims are not reviewed by mental health professionals, those with mental disorders often get denied social security benefits. If this has happened to you, you may be entitled to file a social security disability appeal.
Appealing denied SSDI benefits can be a complicated and confusing process. As outlined in our post on Steps To Take If Social Security Benefits Are Denied In PA, it is recommended that you do the following:
- Contact an experienced social security disability attorney.
- Make sure your appeal is filed within the 60-day window, which is the deadline for appealing an SSA decision.
- Continue to look for a job while you wait.
The first step in the SSDI appeals process involves requesting a reconsideration of your application and the medical documentation supporting your claim, along with any new evidence you are able to provide.
If you continue to be denied social security benefits, you may request a hearing before an administrative judge. In addition to medical records and statements from your doctors, you may have other professionals in the field act as witnesses and testify on your behalf. If you continue to be denied social security benefits, the appeals process may continue on to the SSA appeals council and the Federal Appeals Court.
Reach Out to Our Social Security Disability Attorney
At Krasno, Krasno & Onwudinjo, we understand how challenging it can be to live with a mental health disability such as depression or bipolar disorder, and the impact it can have on your ability to work and provide for yourself. Our experienced Philadelphia social security disability attorneys are dedicated to fighting for the rights of our clients, so you can get the SSDI benefits you deserve.
Contact our office today at 800-952-9640 to request a confidential, one-on-one case consultation, where we can discuss your situation and where you are in the claims application process. If you have already been denied social security disability benefits, we can advise you on the steps you need to take in order to file a successful appeal.
Remember, there is no time to delay in these types of cases, and it is important to be thorough in providing the evidence needed in support of your claim. With 13 offices to serve you throughout Pennsylvania, call or contact Krasno, Krasno & Onwudinjo online today and get the professional legal representation you need to guide you through this process.