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Social Security Disability Definitions

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Disability Denials and Filing Appeals

Social Security Mental Disability Benefits

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Social Security Disability and Working

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Social Security Back Pay and the disability award notice

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Social Security Disability SSI List of Conditions

What is considered a Disabling condition by Social Security?

Social Security Disability SSI and Medical Evidence

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Facts about Dysthymia and Filing for Disability

How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits

1. Dysthymia is a form of depression with only mild symptoms. It is chronic and generally coincides with another condition, such as a long-term physical illness, anxiety disorder, or addiction.

2. Dysthymia symptoms are the same as depression symptoms, except they are less severe. These symptoms include hopelessness, not sleeping or sleeping too much, trouble concentrating or making decisions, low energy and fatigue, low self-esteem, not eating or over-eating. When these symptoms intensify it can lead to an episode of major depression, sometimes called having “double depression.”

3. The condition cannot be diagnosed unless the individual has experienced a low-grade onset of at least two symptoms almost daily for at least two years. Those with dysthymia do not have an onset of even mild mania, so this must be excluded from the individual’s symptoms in order for a dysthymia diagnosis.

4. Those with dysthymia may also be over-stressed, but it is often unknown whether the stress is caused by the dysthymia condition or by separate factors.

5. Although dysthymia symptoms are less severe than with major depression, it is more disruptive over the long run because it lasts longer than bouts of major depression tend to. Quality of life can be lower for those with dysthymia because affected individuals tend to have low self-esteem and not be interested in day-to-day or recreational activities.

6. Biochemical makeup, genetic predisposition and environmental factors are all suspected to contribute to dysthymia. It is not known specifically what causes the condition in each affected individual.

7. The most effective treatment for dysthymia is thought to be a combination of drug therapy (antidepressants) and psychotherapy.

8. Certain lifestyle choices can contribute to helpful treatment of dysthymia. Those with the condition should be consistent with treatment and prescriptions, pay attention to moods and warning signs of depression and seek help if symptoms escalate, engage in physical activity and exercise, and avoiding drugs and alcohol.

Can you qualify for disability benefits with this condition?

Whether or not you qualify for disability and, as a result, are approved for disability benefits will depend entirely on the information obtained from your medical records. This includes whatever statements may have been obtained from your treating physician (a doctor who has a history of treating your condition and is, therefore, qualified to comment as to your condition and prognosis).

It will also depend on the information obtained from your vocational, or work, history if you are an adult, or academic records if you are a minor-age child. The important thing to keep in mind is that the social security administration does not award benefits based on simply having a condition, but, instead, will base an approval or denial on the extent to which a condition causes functional limitations. Functional limitations can be great enough to make work activity not possible (or, for a child, make it impossible to engage in age-appropriate activities).

Why are so many disability cases lost at the disability application and reconsideration appeal levels?

Speaking as a former Disability Claims Examiner, I can state that there are several reasons:

1) Social Security makes no attempt to obtain a statement from a claimant's treating physician. By contrast, at the hearing level, a claimant and his or her disability attorney will generally obtain and present this type of statement to a judge;

2) Prior to the hearing level, a claimant will not have the opportunity to explain how their condition limits them, nor will their attorney or representative have the opportunity to make a presentation based on the evidence of the case. At the hearing level, of course, this is exactly what happens. And a number of disability representatives will also take such steps even earlier, at the reconsideration appeal level;

3) Disability judges, unlike disability examiners who decides cases at the first two levels of the system, can make independent decisions without being overturned by immediate supervisors--which happens frequently.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions

Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The Disability Decision Process and What gets taken into Consideration | Getting Denied for Disability Benefits | Questions about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | Social Security Disability Hearings | Social Security Medical Examinations | Social Security SSI Doctors | Social Security Disability Representation | Social Security Disability SSI Reviews