Are There Social Security Disability Benefits for Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental condition that causes individuals to experience unexpected shifts in energy, mood, levels of activity and the ability to successfully fulfill the tasks of daily living. This is also called manic-depression, and it can cause severe symptoms. While everyone goes through ups and downs throughout their lives, they are experienced differently in those with bipolar disorder, which can lead to major complications in relationships, school and work performance and can lead to suicide if left untreated.

The two main diagnoses for this condition are:

  • Bipolar I Disorder – defined by manic or mixed episodes that go on for at least seven days or manic symptoms so severe immediate hospitalization is necessary, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Depressive episodes typically occur and last for at least two weeks.
  • Bipolar II Disorder – defined by a pattern of hypomanic and depressive symptoms, but there are no fully blown-up manic or mixed episodes.

Filing For Social Security Disability Benefits for Bipolar Disorder

Men and women suffering from either form of bipolar disorder could have trouble working in the same manner as healthy people, and they require increased medical attention and treatment, so they may consider applying for Social Security disability benefits for bipolar disorder.

When a person applies for Social Security disability benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will compare their condition to a list of conditions that meet the qualifications for Social Security disability in the Social Security Blue Book. This book also lists all necessary eligibility criteria. Bipolar disorder appears in Section 12.04, which focuses on affective disorders.

The SSA defines an affective disorder as a disturbance of mood along with full or partial manic and depressive symptoms. A mood is an extended emotion that “colors the whole psychic life” and typically involves elation or depression. To qualify for SSD with bipolar disorder, people must meet all of the necessary requirements which include:

  • Medically documented persistence of bipolar disorder with a history of episodes that fit both the manic and depressive stages of the illness,
  • Suffering major restrictions of daily living and activities, maintaining social functions,
  • Concentration, persistence or pace or suffering from repeated decompensation episodes,
  • Providing a medically documented history of a long-term affective disorder for at least two years that’s caused more than a minimal limitation in daily life including the ability to complete basic work activities and is has symptoms or signs currently being treated with medication or psychosocial support.

Consult a Social Security lawyer before filing your disability benefits claim. You can sign up for a free phone call from an attorney near you today for free legal advice. Having a lawyer file your claim paperwork triples your chances of getting disability benefits right away!

Since bipolar disorder is a mental condition that affects mood, proving it stops you from working may be challenging. As a result, benefit approval is much more difficult for claimants like you. In fact, the SSA approves just 20% of all first-time SSD applications. If you don’t initially get benefits, you still have 60 days to appeal.

Throughout the process, it’s important to keep up treatment to ensure your disorder stays under control. Try to avoid serious manic or depressive episodes that could slow down the process.

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Lori Polemenakos is Director of Consumer Content and SEO strategist for LeadingResponse, a legal marketing company. An award-winning journalist, writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas, she's produced articles for major brands such as, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity,, and edited several published books. Since 2016, she's published hundreds of articles about Social Security disability, workers' compensation, veterans' benefits, personal injury, mass tort, auto accident claims, bankruptcy, employment law and other related legal issues.