Are There Social Security Disability Benefits for Bipolar Disorder?

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 known as manic-depression, and the symptoms can be severe. 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 the necessary criteria that must be met. Bipolar disorder is covered 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.

Bipolar Disorder and Your Social Security Disability Claim

When filing for SSD benefits due to bipolar disorder, it’s best to hire a social security lawyer who specializes in these types of cases and understands all of the intricacies related to social security and disability. They can help you collect any additional documents that could be helpful in proving a disability.

Since bipolar disorder affects mood and is a mental condition, it can be a challenge to prove how severe the symptoms are because they are not overtly visible. Therefore, it makes receiving SSD benefits more difficult. According to Disability Benefits Center, only 30 percent of all first-time applications are approved. If your claim is denied at first, you still have the option to appeal. Additionally, the source noted that if the symptoms so severe that they prevent you from working, you are entitled to Social Security disability benefits for bipolar disorder.

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

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