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What is the difference between sadness and depression? As we go through life’s ups and downs, most people will at some point ask themselves this question.  Of course it is always best to have a qualified doctor or therapist determine if you have either general sadness, otherwise known as “the blues”, or something more serious as depression. At the Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm, serving the greater Memphis area and Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, we understand that both sadness and depression can affect people’s lives. But we also know that seeking social security disability or SSI benefits for depression requires careful documentation by medical professionals. 

This is because depression always interferes with daily activities, including job activities and the ability to hold down a job. At some point, after careful medical attention (and even with medication) the depression-related life interference is so overbearing that SSDI benefits may become available. Heermans Law Firm also understands that depression is also widespread. Major depressive disorder (MDD), one of the illness types listed below, affects almost 20 percent of American adults.  

From the very young to the very old, most people have unfortunately become sad for a period of time in the last couple of years. We have had both illness and economic situations affecting the population globally…which means because we are all interconnected and we are all affected by both ourselves and each others’ life and emotional situations, we have all potentially had more sadness than usual.  This being said, your ability to rise up above sadness and still “carry on” with daily tasks and responsibilities is the definition of being sad. But if you say that you are sad and you cannot get out of bed, and you cannot do your job at work and you keep getting fired, and you cry or are angry all the time and you cannot maintain your relationships…then you probably are depressed. 

Heermans Law Firm helps those whose lives have been affected by depression, not just short term depression-but the kind of depression that affects you and your ability to live your life. More importantly though, is how depression takes away from your ability to have quality of life…creating the need for SSD and SSDI assistance. Thankfully, this Social Security governmental assistance is available for Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and Heermans does their best to get every client the benefits they qualify for.  

When we think in terms of getting Social Security Disability for depression, we are usually speaking of depression called Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).  It is also known as Clinical Depression. It affects children, teens, adults, and the elderly. It also elevates heart disease risk by over 60 percent. Depression can also be related to obesity and physical pain, which may be another possibly qualifying condition. MDD enhances risk of other illnesses as well.

Many people, including SSD/SSDI Disability Determination Services officers, cannot distinguish between situational depression and clinical depression. Frequently, the medical evidence is there, but it is not enough to demonstrate to a DDS officer that benefits are in order. At Heermans Disability, our Social Security Disability attorneys may be able to file an appeal if you have already been denied benefits. If there is proper evidence to be presented, there may be a reversal of the denial so that benefits can be granted. 

Types of Depression

As far as most doctors are concerned, patients are clinically depressed if their symptoms last longer than two weeks or get worse instead of better. The five kinds of clinical depression are:

  • Seasonal Affective Disorder: Many people get depressed in the fall or winter, and their moods improve in the spring and summer. The “disorder” in SAD usually means these individuals experience this same cycle pretty much every year, meaning that SAD is not situational depression.
  • MDD: These individuals have persistent problems with daily activities like eating, sleeping, and in adults – getting motivated and being able to work. Disability lawyers usually focus on that last symptom for adult disability. If the symptoms interfere with work activities, even if those symptoms aren’t particularly severe, disability benefits may be available.
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder: PDD claims are sometimes hard to prove because, in many cases, the disabling symptoms don’t last long enough, especially since so many effective antidepressants are available. Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD), or dysthymia, is different. These patients usually experience disabling symptoms for two years or longer.
  • Perinatal Depression: Postpartum depression, or the “baby blues,” is very common. Statistically, about one in seven mothers have PD. Doctors believe that figure is vastly underreported. Many new moms hide their depression, even from close family members. Others are afraid disclosure may lead to abandonment. They also fear a lack of support. These bad outcomes are unlikely, but the fears are legitimate.
  • Depression with Symptoms of Psychosis: People with the most severe form of depression often have hallucinations or delusions. As a result, they are usually almost completely disabled to the extent that they remove themselves from society.

These types of depression often overlap. If Jim gets depressed and hears voices during the winter time, a doctor could easily misdiagniose serious and debilitating depression as a severe case of SAD, or vice versa. Heermans Social Security Disability lawyers know the importance of competent medical doctors and the value of their ability to evaluate, diagnose, treat their patents for mental illnesses, like depression.

Speaking of treatment, we mentioned antidepressants above. Frequently, when individuals take these medications, their symptoms go down a notch, perhaps from disabling to affecting (e.g. I’ll get up for work after I sleep another ten minutes).

Strong medications can have strong side effects. Some people can tolerate these side-effects and some people cannot. Additionally, antidepressants can become very addictive, especially if patients take them for several months or even years. In some cases, even if medication is available to treat depression, SSDI benefits may also be available as well.

Qualifying for Benefits

Depression often affects employment. People miss work days and/or don’t function well at work. SSD benefits help these families get over the financial hump until the depression clears up enough to allow victims to get back to normal, or at least close to normal.

Except for PDD, most kinds of depression, even the most severe kinds, often last less than a year. But these individuals shouldn’t give up on SSD benefits when you work with a Heermans lawyer. 

As mentioned, doctors might misdiagnose depression. Frequently, a second or third medical opinion may be in order. Furthermore, also as mentioned, not everyone can tolerate prescribed antidepressant medication. Additionally, a “disability” means different things in different contexts. For example: a depressed realtor may have trouble marketing and interacting with clients to sell a house. But, a depressed computer programmer may be able to power through their day working at a computer.

Applicants must also have sufficient work credits to qualify for SSD. The rules can seem complex. Usually, if the applicant has worked steadily for the past ten years, even part-time, the applicant often has enough qualifying work credits.

According to the SSA, individuals are disabled if they aren’t working in their current areas, they cannot find work in their current areas, and they cannot transition to a new area of employment. 

The SSDI Process

Partially because of a common, “you just need to snap out of it” prejudice, the initial denial rate for depression claims is very high. The reconsideration denial rate is even higher. But, it is important to know that the Administrative Law Judge appeal success rate is well above 50 percent. This success rate is particularly high with a disability lawyer representing you, because a Heermans disability lawyer can interact with the judge on your behalf. A lawyer can challenge evidence, make legal arguments, and introduce new evidence on your behalf. 

The Back Door

Even if the applicant’s depression clears the one-year eligibility hurdle, these cases are often difficult to establish in court. Furthermore, many depressed people really don’t want disability benefits. Instead, they just need some assistance to ease the financial strain associated with recovery from depression.

MVA (Medical Vocational Allowance) may be an option for these individuals. MVAs are designed for people who don’t have qualifying disabilities but nevertheless need financial help. 

This process begins with medical examinations that determine the applicant’s RFC (reduced functional capacity). Next, the SSA determines the type of work, if any, that you are reasonably able to perform with your disability. If the SSA rules that you are unable to perform any type of job with your medical condition, even though you don’t have a “Blue Book” condition, you can be approved for SSD benefits under a (MVA) medical vocational allowance.

For more information about mental depression disabilities and SSD benefits, or a FREE disability evaluation, contact Heermans Disability Law Firm 24/7 by text or phone at (901) 244-0057. We will provide you with a FREE disability evaluation when you answer just a few questions if you have been denied disability benefits or are wanting to apply for them. More value added FREE information can be found in our online article library.


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