Is Depression A Long Term Disability?

Depression as a disability can be a difficult thing to pin down.

It can be “case of the blues” for two weeks, or something that prevents you from walking outside of your front door for a while. If you’re suffering from a depression that is more than just “a case of the blues,” you may be unable to do your job, or even live a regular life.

Is Depression A Long Term Disability?

Different Types Of Depression

Nearly everyone has felt depressed once or twice in their life or at least knows someone who has. Many cases are short-term and resolve without any intervention.

So-called “situational depression” happens after a sudden, unexpected life change that impacts the individual. These changes can include:

  • Loss of a loved one (partner, spouse, etc.)
  • Loss of employment (layoff, firing, loss of clientele, business closing)
  • Serious illness or injury
  • Any kind of accident

When the situation has been righted, (i.e., the unemployed individual finds a new job) or enough time passes, this depression eventually resolves in most people.

But serious, debilitating clinical depression is an entirely different matter. Some of these symptoms as possible indicators are:

  • Trouble concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Fatigue
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and helplessness
  • Pessimism and hopelessness
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or sleeping too much
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Loss of interest in things once pleasurable, including sex
  • Overeating, or appetite loss
  • Aches, pains, headaches, or cramps that won’t go away
  • Digestive problems that don’t get better, even with treatment
  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts

When mental symptoms turn into physical symptoms, it’s time to seek out medical help. There isn’t a blood or lab test to detect depression; the diagnosis usually comes from the patient’s discussion with his or her physician. A doctor may conduct some testing to determine if it is caused by a medical condition or a medication.

Once diagnosed, suggested treatments may include psychotherapy and medications to manage the condition. In some circumstances, these treatments may be nominally effective, or even ineffective. Depression then may turn into a disability.

Is It A Long-Term Disability?

Depression that doesn’t resolve on its own, or with treatment, may be considered a “disability,” but there are a number of caveats that go with it. Getting approved for long-term disability may take some time, and be more difficult than SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) if depression is stopping you from working.

Many long-term disability policies don’t allow mental illness as a disability, or put a two-year limitation on them (if your claim is only for depression.)  Because they’re more difficult, you’ll need to prove your condition according to your policy’s disability definition. In other words, you’ll need proof that your disability is so serious and acute that it prevents you from working and inhibits your life in general. Review your policy to find out exactly what it says on the subject so you can gather up the proper paperwork and evidence.

You’ll also need to seek proper care for your depression, and have it documented (i.e., medical records.) If your depression is a result of another underlying medical issue (i.e., injury, chronic pain) you may be able to receive benefits without the two-year limitation. Additional medical evidence that your physical disability alone prevents you from working may be sufficient to secure long-term disability.

Denied? Appeal Your Decision

Anytime you apply for long-term disability, it can be a long process, and your claim may be denied outright. If your depression is holding you back, and making work difficult or impossible, you need time to heal. An attorney skilled in disability cases can work with you to file your long-term disability as well as handle any appeals. It may take time, but you can get help for depression.

Helping You Get Help

If your depression is keeping you from working and living your life, you need help on the way to getting better. The Herren Law Firm can help you with your application, appeals and help you get the long-term disability benefits you need so you can treat your depression and get on with your life. Contact us today at 713-682-8194 to schedule your free consultation. There’s no obligation, and no up-front fees.  We only collect if we win your case.

Getting Veterans Disability Compensation for Depression

Depression is something that we now know can affect anyone at any time, including veterans. It’s more than just feeling “blue” or down for a few days. If depression continues long term, it can be debilitating, and most people can’t just “snap out of it.” Veterans can be particularly susceptible, especially if they’ve served in a combat zone or another high-stress service connected work environment. If you’re a veteran who’s suffering from or has been diagnosed with service-related depression that impacts your life, you can apply for disability compensation through the Veterans Administration.

Getting Veterans Disability Compensation for Depression

Is It Service Connected?

The VA has two classifications for depression: dysthymic disorder and major depressive disorder, collectively called “mood disorders.”

The first thing the VA will do is determine how and if your depression is directly service connected. You’ll need to produce medical records and other documentation that point to the depression stemming from military service, or from a service-connected injury. Any documentation that proves the depression was service-related will be helpful. If there is nothing in the service medical record, the VA may request statements from individuals who served with the veteran that can corroborate the claim.

If depression existed before enlistment and was worsened by an event or activity during military service, the VA calls it an “aggravated service connection.” The veteran must prove that his or her depression existed before enlistment, and will need to back it up with a statement from his or her physician or mental health professional. Again, if there is no medical notation in the veteran’s service record, statements from fellow service members may be requested.

A veteran must also not have a dishonorable discharge or have any medical condition caused by the veterans’ own intentional misconduct.

Establishing Proof of Depression

In order to process an application and approve (or deny) a veteran’s benefits based on depression, the VA will require various forms of proof. This proof may include:

·         Current diagnosis of depression (from a VA doctor for aggravated service conditions)

·         Evidence of an incident during active duty that triggered or aggravated the depression

·         Medical evidence establishing the link between the current depression diagnosis or aggravation and the episode that occurred while on active duty.

·         A service-connected physical disability that has a direct connection to the diagnosis of depression (called “secondary service connection.”)

An attorney with experience filing VA claims for disability can help identify all the documentary proof needed for a successful benefits application.

Schedule of Ratings

The VA uses a schedule to rate disabilities, including various mental disorders. They rate psychiatric conditions at  0%, 10%, 30%, 50%, 70%, or 100% depending on the symptoms and the limitations of the individual’s condition. These ratings are assigned once the disability of the depressive episode has been established. To diagnose and rate these conditions, the VA uses the criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the standard for counselors and psychiatrists and published by the American Psychiatric Association. The higher the rating, the higher the disability, but a 0% score also opens up eligibility for health care later.

The Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) Scale is also used to determine disability ratings for a veteran’s mental conditions. Scores are awarded after the VA’s Compensation & Pension Exam. Ranging from 1-100, the GAF includes one’s ability to function at work, home, and in social situations, with the highest score being the highest functioning. The lower your score, the higher rating from the VA.

We’re Here To Help

You can apply online for VA benefits, or by visiting your local VA office.

If you’ve been denied benefits, or don’t know where to start, call us today at (713) 682-8194 or (800) 529-7707 to schedule your free consultation. Our attorneys are experienced in helping veterans successfully navigate through the application and appeals process, and we can help you too. Our contingency fee arrangement means you won’t have to pay any fees until you start receiving benefits.