Episode of decompensation is another term that seems complicated, yet has a fairly simple meaning. An episode of decompensation means that your mental illness temporarily got worse than normal. After the temporary worsening of the symptoms, the symptoms then return to “normal.” These episodes are important, as they are proof that you are disabled by your condition. The SSA will find repeated episodes where this has occurred three (3) times in a year, with each episode lasting at least two (2) weeks. Episodes of decompensation can be proven by showing that you had increased difficulty with your daily activities and your relationships with other people. Medical records that indicate a major change in medication or hospitalization may establish these episodes of decompensation.
The reason SSA considers decompensation is because these worsening of symptoms can have a great impact on a person’s ability to work. Where a person has a mental illness that suddenly gets worse several times a year, that person will likely have great difficulty maintaining employment. These episodes sometimes require a person to remove himself from stressful situations (such as work). For these reasons, a person who suffers from these episodes is likely to meet the requirements for disability benefits.