While depression and anxiety are unique mental health conditions, they often occur simultaneously in individuals. When a depression and/or anxiety condition is so severe it prevents an individual from being able to perform his or her job, the individual may look to a long term disability policy for financial support during a difficult time. Because depression and anxiety disorders diagnoses are intangible disabilities without physically demonstrable symptoms (compared to a broken leg, for example), these disorders are some of the more challenging claims for those seeking disability claims, as insurance companies tend to challenge the claims and/or do not include coverage in their policies. If you or a loved one suffers from depression or anxiety, the overview below may help frame your thinking with regard to securing a disability claim.

An Overview of Depression

Worker feeling anxious and depressed at his deskMajor depressive disorder is a mental disorder characterized by a pervasive and persistent low mood accompanied by low self-esteem and by a loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities. Major depressive disorder is a disabling condition that adversely affects a person’s family, work or school life, sleeping and eating habits, and general health. In the United States, around 3.4% of people with major depression commit suicide, and up to 60% of people who commit suicide had depression or another mood disorder.

The diagnosis of major depressive disorder is based on the patient’s self-reported experiences, behavior reported by relatives or friends, and a mental status examination. There is no laboratory test for major depression, although physicians generally request tests for physical conditions that may cause similar symptoms. The most common period of onset is between the ages of 20 and 30 years, with a smaller secondary peak between 30 and 40 years.

Typically, people suffering from major depressive disorder receive antidepressant medication and, in many cases, also receive counseling, particularly cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Medication appears to be effective, but the effect may only be significant in the most severely depressed. Hospitalization may be necessary in cases with associated self-neglect or a significant risk of harm to self or others. A minority are treated with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). The course of the disorder varies widely, from one episode lasting weeks to a lifelong disorder with recurrent major depressive episodes. Depressed individuals have shorter life expectancies than those without depression, in part because of greater susceptibility to medical illnesses and suicide. It is unclear whether or not medications affect the risk of suicide.

An Overview of Anxiety

Anxiety is an unpleasant state of inner turmoil, often accompanied by nervous behavior, such as pacing back and forth, somatic complaints and rumination. It is the subjectively unpleasant feelings of dread over anticipated events, such as the feeling of imminent death. Anxiety is not the same as fear; fear is a response to a real or perceived immediate threat, whereas anxiety is the expectation of future threat. Anxiety is a feeling of fear, worry, and uneasiness, usually generalized and unfocused as an overreaction to a situation that is only subjectively seen as menacing. It is often accompanied by muscular tension, restlessness, fatigue and problems in concentration. Anxiety can be appropriate, but at high intensity and/or for long periods of time, the individual may suffer from an anxiety disorder. Common anxiety disorders include panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder and other phobias.

People facing anxiety may withdraw from situations, which have provoked anxiety in the past. There are different types of anxiety. Existential anxiety can occur when a person faces angst, an existential crisis, or nihilistic feelings. People can also face test anxiety, mathematical anxiety, stage fright or somatic anxiety. Another set of anxieties, stranger anxiety and social anxiety, are caused when people are apprehensive around strangers or other people in general. Anxiety can be either a short term “state” or a long term “trait.” Common treatment options include lifestyle changes, therapy, and medications.

Long Term Disability Claims Based on Depression & Anxiety

If you suffer from depression and anxiety and are claiming benefits under a long term disability policy, you must prove your condition is disabling under the disability definition found in your insurance policy. Moreover, you must meet all other requirements of your long term disability policy in order to be approved. In general, this means you must demonstrate your depression and anxiety are so severe they prevent you from performing your job (and perhaps any job). Documentation of your disability from your treating providers as well as factual evidence from you and your family, friends, and co-workers can all be used to secure your claim.

Typically, long term disability policies limit recovery for claims based solely on mental health claims to two years; each plan is different, however, so review the plan terms carefully. If your depression and anxiety issues were caused by an underlying physical health problem such as chronic pain, then you may be able to receive benefits beyond your plan’s mental health limitation. To secure these additional long term disability benefits, you will need to develop medical evidence showing your physical impairment alone renders you disabled. An experienced long term disability attorney can help develop the necessary evidence.

Social Security Disability Claims Based on Depression & Anxiety

Unlike long term disability policies, the Social Security Administration does not limit claims based on depression and anxiety. This means even if your long term disability benefits end, you can continue to receive Social Security Disability benefits based solely on mental health issues. Please note the Social Security Administration has specific rules governing mental health claims.

Contact Hawks Quindel
If you have applied for disability benefits and your claim has been denied, contact Hawks Quindel immediately. Hawks Quindel represents individuals who have been denied long term disability benefits and Social Security disability benefits. Please call 608/257-0040 for a free consultation.

Family & Divorce

Labor Law

Social Security

Employee Benefits

Wage & Hour

Worker's Compensation

Disability Benefits

Duty Disability

Bill Parsons