Slepian Smith, PLLC

Why is it so difficult to get disability benefits for depression?

Depression is a common condition cited on Social Security Disability applications, but that doesn't mean it's easy for people with depression to secure benefits.

Like other conditions with symptoms that are based on emotional distress, a disability based on depression can be difficult to prove to the Social Security Administration because the symptoms are often difficult to measure.

Additionally, just being diagnosed with depression is not enough to qualify for benefits. The SSA must deem the depression severe enough to result in a disability finding.

Here are a few tips for getting a disability application based on depression approved:

1. Make sure your medical records support your claim. The SSA relies heavily on medical records to evaluate the severity of a person's depression and determine if it qualifies the person as disabled.

Make sure that your symptoms have been properly documented by your medical provider. That means making routine visits to the medical provider so that your records are up to date and thoroughly capture the progression of your illness.

2. Follow through on your treatment plan. Having a treatment plan created by you and your medical provider and then not following through on that treatment plan can send a message to the SSA that you have not exhausted all efforts in getting treatment for the depression.

The SSA could conclude that you should first attempt to manage the severity of the depression with the prescribed treatment before granting benefits.

Of course, following through on treatment and attending regular appointments can be difficult for people with serious depression, so this isn't always an accurate assessment by the SSA.

3. Work with a lawyer who can help make your case. Another extremely helpful step a person with depression can take to improve the likelihood of disability benefits being granted is to hire an experienced disability attorney who understands what the SSA is looking for and how to show these things in the application or appeal.

An experienced attorney can take the lead and work with medical providers to collect the necessary evidence.

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