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Arizonans who struggle with depression and are unable to work may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. Obtaining these benefits can be difficult because depression, like other mental impairments, can be challenging to evaluate, and claims are frequently denied. If you are dealing with this situation, turn to Disability Attorneys of Arizona.

Our law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of individuals who have been disabled by physical conditions and mental impairments such as depression. We have comprehensive knowledge of the eligibility requirements for disability benefits and a well-earned reputation as dedicated advocates of the disabled.

When you become our client, you will work directly with an experienced disability lawyer who will guide you through all aspects of the claims process. Above all, we are committed to getting you the disability benefits you need and deserve. We offer free consultations and will charge no attorneys’ fees until we win your claim. Contact our Phoenix office today to get started. 

What Is Depression?

Clinical depression is a mental disorder that manifests itself in a depressed, low, or “blue” mood that lasts more than a few days. Anyone can experience “situational” depression, with symptoms typically subsiding in a few days or weeks. However, those suffering from clinical depression experience overwhelming feelings of depression and hopelessness that can last for months or even years. While there are no specific medical tests for diagnosing depression, symptoms may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Sadness
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty concentrating/making decisions
  • Restlessness
  • Overeating/loss of appetite
  • Loss of interest in activities and people
  • Hopelessness
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feeling worthless
  • Inability to experience pleasure
  • Disturbed sleep patterns (e.g. insomnia, waking early, sleeping excessively)
  • Suicidal thoughts

Depression can be caused by both environmental and genetic factors. There is hope, however, because the condition can be successfully treated. Psychotherapy combined with antidepressant medications has proven effective for many, while holistic treatment approaches, such as changes in diet and level of exercise, exposure to sunlight, and social changes can also help to ease the symptoms of depression.

Is Depression Considered A Disability?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) considers depression a disability if it is severe and persistent enough to prevent you from performing any substantial gainful activity (SGA).

While the SSA does not have a separate listing for depression in its listing of impairments (the Blue Book), the condition is included under Section 12.04 Affective Disorders. Because the Blue Book is only intended to be a guide, disability examiners will also consider other evidence, such as:

  • Clinical notes of mental health professionals who have treated your depression 
  • SSA questionnaires completed by third parties (e.g. friends, family members) detailing how your depression affects your daily routine
  • Your answers to the “activities of daily living” (ADL) questionnaire

To qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, you must have supporting medical evidence that shows depression results in significant restriction or difficulty in at least two of the following areas:

  • Activities of daily living (e.g. showering, dressing, mobility, social activities)
  • Social functioning
  • Ability to concentrate 
  • Repeated, extended deterioration in your condition

You may also be eligible if the medical records show you are suffering from four of the symptoms mentioned above.  

What is mental residual functional capacity?

Your disability claim should include a residual functional capacity (RFC) form completed by your physician. This form can help the disability examiner determine whether your depression qualifies you for disability benefits. 

In short, your RFC is an assessment of how depression impacts your ability to concentrate, your memory skills, social skills, and overall mental state. The medical evidence must detail your treatment (e.g. prescription antidepressants, psychotherapy) and whether it has helped. Importantly, you must show that you have followed your doctor’s treatment plan, but that your depression continues to render you disabled. 

How We Can Help

Despite the greater awareness of mental health, a stigma continues to be associated with mental illness, including depression. While depression is treatable, antidepressants have serious side effects and may become less therapeutic over time. You can depend on our legal team to offer you a supportive environment, listen to your concerns, and work closely with you throughout the entire process. 

Once you become our client we will:

  • Assist with submitting your disability claim
  • Work with your doctor to compile medical evidence
  • Handle your disability appeal
  • Represent you during the disability hearing

 Although the majority of initial disability claims are denied, working with our capable disability lawyer increases your likelihood of obtaining benefits Above all, we offer you compassionate, effective representation, and fight for the benefits you need and deserve. 

Contact Our Experienced Arizona Disability Attorney

If you or a loved one is seeking Social Security Disability benefits for depression, having an experienced disability lawyer is a wise choice. The sooner you contact us, the sooner we can start working on your claim.