Do You Have A Case?

Depression is more than just being sad. It is a severe mental health condition that can lead to serious problems for the individual. The symptoms of major clinical depression can make it difficult to perform daily tasks, such as working.

If you feel that your depression limits your capacity to work or perform your job duties, you may want to consider filing for long-term disability. While your depression could qualify you for long-term disability insurance, there are a lot of challenges that come with mental illness disability claims, that are not often present with physical disability claims.

The Disabling Symptoms of Depression

Clinical depression, also known as major depression or major depressive disorder, has several symptoms that can be debilitating. Depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Common symptoms of depression include pervasive sadness, despair, and overall loss of interest in tasks/activities. Generally, further symptoms can vary in frequency or severity, as it manifests differently in individuals. Some of the most common debilitating symptoms include:

  • Pervasive & consistent sadness, despair, or worthlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of energy
  • Lack of focus
  • Slowed movement or speech
  • Unusual sleep patterns (oversleeping or insomnia)
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Change in appetite
  • Significant body weight changes
  • Thoughts of suicide/self-harm

These symptoms, if severe or frequent enough, can be disabling for some individuals. While your daily life can be seriously affected by your depression, your insurance company is likely going to require a lot of strong evidence of your symptoms. Especially in terms of how they limit your ability to perform at work.

Getting your Depression Diagnosed

Proof of diagnosis is essential for any disability claim based on an illness, mental or physical. Your doctor will be able to diagnose you with depression. When it comes to mental illness, most physicians will first try to rule out other potential causes. They may do so with physical exams, blood tests, and/or other forms of testing. Then, they will likely perform a mental health evaluation or refer you to a mental health professional, like a psychiatrist, to evaluate you.

This test is a full diagnostic evaluation. They will ask questions in regards to your moods, behaviors, and how long these symptoms have persisted. Be sure to mention all symptoms you are experiencing, as well as their frequency and severity. It is vital for a proper diagnosis that you are accurate in how you describe your symptoms. They may also ask if you have a family history of depression or other mental illnesses. Try to answer these to the best of your ability. Some diagnostic evaluations may require input from close family members or friends. So consider asking someone you trust to speak on your behalf.

man looking sad and holding his head on a couch - depression concept

Types of Depression

Depression comes in many different forms. The type of depression you are diagnosed with can be important in building your case, as it highlights some symptoms and behaviors over others. Generally, the different categories refer to how certain symptoms can vary in length, frequency, and severity. Some may have symptoms unique to that sub-category.

Major Depressive Disorder

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is a common form of depression, with classicly associated symptoms. Generally, depressive episodes can last for weeks or months at a time.

Persistent Depressive Disorder

PDD is similar to MDD, but the symptoms tend to last 2 or more years. While symptoms can fluctuate in severity, they are still often present. PDD is generally less debilitating, but can still be quite an impairment.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression generally related to seasonal changes. Shorter days and periods of lessened sunlight during winter can bring depressive feelings and symptoms. One way SAD is combated is UV Light Therapy.

Psychotic Depression

People living with Psychotic Depression deal with the usual assortment of depression-related symptoms and additional “psychotic” symptoms. These may include delusions, paranoia, and hallucinations.

Peripartum (Postpartum) Depression

This form of depression refers to major depressive feelings post-childbirth. Postpartum depressive symptoms can last for months after childbirth. While postpartum depression is more common in women, roughly 1 in 10 men taking care of a new baby will experience depression during this time.

How Do I Prove My Disability With Depression?

Anyone living with depression knows the toll it can take on your life, your health, your relationships, and your career. However, your insurance company will likely not understand the gravity of your unique situation. They will likely not understand how your symptoms impact your ability to work. To have your disability claim approved, you will need to show how your symptoms limit your capacity to perform work tasks.

For example, a depressive episode might cause you to be unable to get out of bed because of mood and fatigue, which forces you to call in sick. A loss of focus or ability to concentrate due to your depression might make it harder to work. This can also lead to safety issues if you work in a physical career. Low energy and hopelessness can exacerbate the normal stresses of the work environment and overwhelm you.

Providing Evidence From Your Doctor

Be sure to discuss any and all symptoms of your depression with your primary care physician, therapist, and any other relevant doctors. You should also discuss the frequency and severity of symptoms. Your doctor’s reporting and support are key to developing a strong basis for building your case. Be sure to mention how these symptoms can reduce your ability to perform work tasks.

Official diagnoses of your mental illness from a licensed therapist or psychologist will also be vital in building your case.

Neuropsychological Evaluation

A Neuropsychological Evaluation is a test that measures mental and cognitive deficits. The evaluation can objectively measure how your depression affects your cognitive ability. The evaluation will also provide an IQ test and additional screenings for further diagnoses. During the evaluation, your memory, problem-solving skills, processing speed, executive functioning, and more will be measured. It also has parameters in place to help ensure that the individual is putting in their maximum effort. These parameters help legitimize the validity of your test.

Neuropsychological Evaluation can often be one of the strongest pieces of evidence to support your claim because it objectively shows how your cognitive function affects your ability to perform at work.

Getting Appropriate Treatment for your Depression

As part of your long-term disability claim, you will need to show the insurance company that you are receiving appropriate treatment for your debilitating symptoms. In the case of debilitating mental health symptoms, you will need to show proof of ongoing treatment of your mental health conditions. Generally, this comes in the form of treatment from mental health specialists, such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, or neuropsychologist. In addition to therapy, treatment options may include:

  • Medication such as anti-depressants, mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, or anti-anxiety medication.
  • Additional therapy options such as individual or group counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy, or social rhythm therapy.
  • Hospitalization
  • And more.

Your doctors will be able to work with you to find what treatment options are right for you.

Depression & Anxiety

Anxiety and depression often go hand-in-hand. It is very common for people to suffer from both. If you are living with anxiety or depression, you should talk with your doctor or therapist about the possibility of having both. They may be able to determine a further diagnosis for you. This may also be helpful in building your case, as suffering from both anxiety and depression can make it harder for you to perform at work. for more information regarding anxiety and long-term disability, click here.

Mental Illness Limitations on Your Long-Term Disability Policies

When filing for long-term disability insurance for mental illness, it is important to check if your policy includes a Mental Illness Limitation. While policies may vary, it is common for a Mental Illness Limitation to limit your benefits to 2 years. However, some policies may have an even smaller limit.

If you are disabled solely due to your mental health condition, and no additional physical disability, your benefits may run out when you reach the Mental Illness Limitation. There are some exemptions to MIL’s, but they are generally reserved for specific conditions, such as bipolar disorder. However, if you can demonstrate objective proof of your cognitive limitations, such as with a neuropsychological evaluation, your benefits may extend past the limit.

Discuss with your disability attorney your options regarding your policy.

Can an Attorney Help Me Get Long-Term Disability for Depression?

If you are looking to file a long-term disability claim for your mental health condition, you should seek out an experienced attorney. At D’Agostino & Associates, we help people living with disabling conditions such as depression file long-term disability claims. We help you through the process step by step to help you build a strong case. Our law team is here for you.

At D’Agostino & Associates, our team of lawyers can help you sort through all the details, understand what you are entitled to, and fight to get what you deserve. D’Agostino & Associates P.C. has offices in New York and New Jersey. Contact us, or call us at 1-888-245-2924 to schedule a free consultation with our attorneys.