In some cases, depression can prevent a Pennsylvania resident from functioning and supporting themselves. Those suffering from the extreme effects of this mental health problem could potentially qualify for Social Security disability benefits. A disability examiner will want to see documented symptoms that fit the agency’s impairment listing criteria. Fulfilling this requirement is extremely challenging for many applicants, but the medical vocation allowance part of the disability examination could result in approval because it takes into account a person’s ability to perform a job.
The impairment listing that guides depression evaluations focuses primarily on if there are ongoing episodes of decompensation when the applicant cannot maintain normal activities. If decompensation does not occur all of the time, it must at least be recurrent. An applicant incapacitated by small changes in the environment that overwhelm mental function might also demonstrate sufficient disability. Overall, a depression that prevents someone from functioning outside of a supportive environment could meet the criteria.
When medical records cannot fully satisfy the impairment requirements, a disability examiner might consider what the applicant is actually capable of doing. The agency refers to this as residual functional capacity. An examiner looks at the applicant’s previous jobs and current employment prospects in respect to education and age. Someone functionally unable to perform any gainful employment due to depression might gain approval of benefits through a medical vocational allowance.
The Social Security Administration confronts applicants with a complex process that often results in denial of benefits. Legal counsel could help a client complete an application and overcome administrative hurdles. An attorney might communicate evidence of disabling conditions clearly and potentially avoid delays over missing paperwork. Legal advice might also prepare an applicant for a hearing with an administrative law judge during an appeal.