In this blog post, we’ve compiled our best advice on how to win a disability hearing for depression. Individuals unable to work due to Major Depressive Disorder may seek out Social Security Disability benefits from the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs.
Initial applications are often denied which means that in many cases, successful disability claimants will appear on appeal in front of an Administrative Law Judge for a hearing. If you’re working with a disability lawyer, they will thoroughly prepare you for that hearing. But if you’re self-represented, you’ll want to take careful note of the following information.
Social Security Disability for Depression
The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) blue book listing for depression falls under Section 12.00 for Mental Disorders. The listings for mental disorders consist of 11 sub-categories. The sub-category relevant to depression is section 12.04: Depressive, Bipolar and Related Disorders. If claimants have multiple mental disorder diagnoses, the SSA will make determinations using other relevant sub-categories.
The listing criteria requires claimants to meet a combination of requirements. The first requirement is related to the medically accepted diagnostic criteria for depressive, bipolar and related disorders. Claimants must prove with clear medical documentation that they suffer from common symptoms associated with depression or bipolar disorder.
Those symptoms as defined by the SSA include:
- “Depressive disorder, characterized by five or more of the following:
- Bipolar disorder, characterized by three or more of the following:
In addition to clear medical documentation establishing the above symptoms, claimants must meet additional requirements. Successful claimants must demonstrate their disorder is “serious and persistent” with a documented history of this condition over a period of at least two years.
Alternatively, they can demonstrate extreme limitation or a combination of marked limitation in their ability to interact with others, concentrate or maintain pace at work, and understand, remember, and apply information. Finally, claimants must demonstrate the need for continued treatment relevant to their condition and that they have minimal capacity to adapt to change or demand in their daily life.
Disability Hearings for Depression
During a disability hearing for depression, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) is charged with determining if a claimant meets SSA’s requirements for receiving disability benefits. To perform this job, they will review the medical evidence in your file, question you during the hearing, and possibly question a vocational expert (VE) about details relevant to your claim.
Disability hearings follow the same structure no matter which medical impairment a claimant alleges. To have the best chance of success, it is best to be well-prepared and to ensure you are educated about the requirements for both the SSDI and SSI programs.
Be honest about your limitations and abilities and continue to attend treatment regularly with your mental health provider. If you advance to a hearing and you are uncooperative with treatment or haven’t attempted to work unsuccessfully, the ALJ will understandably question whether you meet program standards.
If you are working with a disability lawyer, they will prepare you thoroughly for the hearing based upon the disability program(s) you’re applying for. Claimants who work with lawyers are three times more successful than unrepresented claimants. Our best advice for how to win a disability hearing for depression is to work with a disability lawyer.
That’s not a sales pitch but it is certainly a guideline for unrepresented claimants. To have the best chance of success, prepare your claim like a seasoned professional. Understand program rules thoroughly, prepare your medical evidence, continue with regular treatment, and be straightforward and confident when in a hearing. Our blog has some content to help you prepare further. Click here for sample questions you may encounter at hearing.
Disability Lawyers in Charlotte, NC
This content was provided by the Collins Price, PLLC disability lawyers in Charlotte, NC. We work with clients applying for or appealing denied Social Security disability claims. Our Charlotte disability lawyers can help no matter where you are in the process. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation on your claim.