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Can I Receive Disability Benefits if I Suffer From Major Clinical Depression?

Posted on in Social Security Disability

Social Security disability applicants, Social Security disability, Cook County Social Security attorney, clinical depression, disability benefitsDepression is often overlooked as a disability. However, depression is one of the most common mental impairments cited by Social Security disability applicants. Depression is not simply “feeling sad.” It is a serious mood disorder that often renders victims unable to cope with the daily stresses of the workplace. In many cases, disability is simply one of several ailments that limit an applicant's ability to work or live his or her daily life.

Magistrate Orders 4th Disability Hearing for Illinois Woman With Depression

Sadly, getting Social Security to take depression as a disability seriously remains an uphill struggle for too many applicants. For example, a federal magistrate in Illinois recently ordered Social Security to conduct a new hearing for a woman suffering from depression who first applied for disability benefits nearly 10 years ago. In fact, this will be the fourth such hearing for the plaintiff, who has been unable to work since 2004 due to her depression and other impairments.

At the plaintiff's most recent disability hearing before a Social Security administrative law judge (ALJ), she testified as to the effects her depression had on her daily life. While acknowledging these symptoms constituted an “impairment,” the ALJ nevertheless determined the plaintiff's “statements concerning the intensity, persistence and limiting effects of these symptoms are not entirely consistent with the medical evidence and other evidence in the record.” The ALJ went on to find the plaintiff still possessed the “residual functional capacity” (RFC), despite her impairments, to continue working.

On appeal, the magistrate criticized the ALJ for failing to properly consider the plaintiff's depression. “To be blunt,” the magistrate said, “there was zero discussion of the Plaintiff's depression in formulating the RFC.” Even if the ALJ was correct in deciding the plaintiff's depression was not as severe as she claimed, Social Security regulations still require a separate discussion of this impairment when preparing an RFC. That did not happen here, the magistrate said. Moreover, it prejudiced the plaintiff's claim, because the RFC is used to assess a disability applicant's potential suitability for future work.

Furthermore, the magistrate said the ALJ “failed to provide any meaningful discussion of why he was discrediting the Plaintiff's statements regarding the limiting effects” of her depression in the first place. While Social Security is not required to believe everything an applicant says regarding her symptoms, the magistrate noted an ALJ must still provide a “logical bridge” justifying a credibility determination. Again, despite the fact that this was the plaintiff's third Social Security hearing, the ALJ did not bother to perform this basic task. Hopefully, the agency will get things right the fourth time.

Need Help Fighting for Your Disability Benefits?

It often takes several years for disability applicants to fight through the Social Security system before they start receiving benefits. Do not feel that you should have to go through this process alone. If you need assistance from a qualified Cook County Social Security attorney, contact Pearson Disability Law, LLC today.



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