Friday, March 14, 2008

Applying for Disability with Depression

Quite often people filing for disability based on depression do not have adequate medical documentation to back up their claim. In some cases this is due to a lack of health insurance, or to poor documentation by their treating physician. However, in most cases in which depression is cited as a disability, there is little if any history of medical treatment for depression because the claimant has never sought help from a mental health professional.

Because any disability case is approved (or denied) on the basis of evidence presented in medical records, it is important to seek out the opinion of a qualified psychiatrist, who will provide documentation to back up your claim that 1) you are suffering from clinical depression; and 2) your depression significantly interferes with your ability to hold a job.

Do not rely, as so many claimants do, on a prescription for anti-depressants from your family practitioner to prove your case. This is not enough to demonstrate disabling, clinical depression. Nor should you be afraid of being labeled “mentally ill” if you see a psychiatrist; after all, you need this “label” in order to qualify for disability benefits. A psychiatrist can be most effective in helping you to demonstrate the following:

1. You are depressed, and suffering from a history of mental health issues related to your condition.

2. Your depression has been such that you have sought treatment from a qualified mental health professional (choose a psychiatrist (MD) over a psychologist (PhD), because the disability examiner will give the most credence to a history of treatment that is supplied by a physician).

3. You can provide detailed medical records documenting to what extent your depression limits your work capacity, as well as past mental health treatment, and the specific nature of your psychiatric problems.

Whether depression is the primary allegation of your disability claim or simply a contributing factor to your impairment, it is critical that you provide medical evidence that comes from the source considered to be most knowledgeable about mental health issues and the impact these can have on a claimant’s physical capabilities. Do not hesitate to see a psychiatrist if your depression has negatively affected your job performance, as you will need his or her input when filing for disability benefits.

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