It is a well-known fact that it is difficult to receive a favorable determination when you apply for Social Security Disability benefits. The guidelines for each condition that makes a person eligible for benefits are very specific, and the SSA requires thorough medical documentation to verify the existence of the condition, as well as proof that the condition affects the person’s ability to keep working or change careers.
When dealing with mental impairments such as depression or postpartum depression, qualification can be more difficult to prove as the effects of the illness are usually not physically impairing and are harder to diagnose. Thus, sufferers of depression are most often given a medical vocational allowance after all physical/mental factors are considered.
For this reason, make sure your medical records and your RFC (Residual Functional Capacity) forms are thorough and convincing by using reputable doctors and maintaining the same doctors consistently to establish a continuous record of treatment over a long period of time.
There is also a problem with being eligible for SSDI because of one’s employment record. The SSA requires that in order to be eligible for benefits, a claimant has to have been contributing taxes into the system for at least 5 out of the last 10 years. It is sad, but many mentally impaired people, including those suffering from depression, have difficulty keeping jobs and end up with a broken employment record. Beware of your Date Last Insured, or DLI.
If you are unqualified for Social Security Disability benefits due to a broken-up work record, you may still be eligible for SSI benefits, which doesn’t have employment requirements. However, there are other requirements that must be met.
This is all helpful information, but one of the best pieces of advice for anyone filing for Social Security Disability is to get the assistance of a lawyer or healthcare professional who has experience helping people file for benefits. It would be particularly helpful to find someone who has had experience with depression cases, as they will know what the SSA is looking for in the medical records for such cases. They will know exactly what you need to present your case in the way that is most likely to result in approval for disability benefits so you are free to concentrate on recovering from the debilitating depression.