Can I qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits if I have bipolar disorder?
The short answer is “Yes, but.” Just providing a diagnosis of bipolar disorder may not be enough to qualify; you will also need to provide evidence that your situation seriously impairs your ability to work. Your capacity to engage in “gainful employment” (job tasks) is the factor on which the Social Security Administration (SSA) bases their decision. The following is a list of important components the Social Security Administration will consider when evaluating your claim, and tips for how you can increase your chances of obtaining benefits.
Length of Your Bipolar Disorder
In order to qualify for disability insurance, your disorder must have (or will have) lasted for 12 months or more and place you in a state unable to perform everyday job tasks.
Your doctor’s, psychologist’s, and psychiatrist’s written statements about your condition carries significant weight in the application process. A qualified doctor can give his or her opinion on your working capabilities and the overall, long-term effects of the disorder.
Full Listing of Treatments
If you have received medication, the SSA wants to know the amount of time, type and dosage, and the effect the treatment has had on you. If you haven’t received any treatment for your situation, the SSA will consider your condition “mild” and likely reject your application.
Meeting a “Disability Listing”
The SSA may automatically qualify you if your bipolar disorder features the following characteristics, according to the SSA’s Listing of Impairments, Sec. 12.04:
- a disturbance of mood, accompanied by a full or partial manic or depressive syndrome. Mood refers to a prolonged emotion that colors the whole psychic life; it generally involves either depression or elation.
- If you have a bipolar syndrome and a history of accompanying episodic periods manifested by the full symptomatic picture of both manic and depressive syndromes (and currently characterized by either or both syndromes)
An Overview of Bipolar Disorder
According to HelpGuide.org, Bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression) “causes serious shifts in mood, energy, thinking, and behavior—from the highs of mania on one extreme, to the lows of depression on the other.” There are four basic types of mood episodes in bipolar disorder: mania, hypomania, depression, and mixed episodes. Each type of bipolar disorder mood episode has a specific pattern of symptoms.
Individuals suffering from mania experience “manic episodes.” These episodes are characterized by extreme mood swings and may consist of: picking fights, lashing out when others don’t go along with their plans, and blaming anyone who criticizes their behavior. Other symptoms include:
- Feeling abnormally “high” and optimistic or the opposite—extremely irritable
- Unrealistic, grandiose beliefs about one’s abilities
- Sleeping very little, but feeling extremely energetic
- Rapid, often indiscernible speech
- Inability to concentrate
- Impaired judgment and extreme impulsiveness
- Recklessly acting without thinking about the consequences
Hypomania is a less severe form of mania. Individuals diagnosed with hypomania go into “states” in which they feel euphoric, energetic, and productive, but they are able to carry on with their day-to-day lives, and they never completely lose touch with reality. To relatives and friends, it may seem as if people with hypomania are simply in an unusually good mood. However, hypomania can lead to bad decision-making that often harms relationships, careers, and reputations. In addition, hypomania often develops into a complete mania or is followed by a major depressive episode.
Common symptoms of bipolar depression include, according to HelpGuide.org:
A mixed episode of bipolar disorder is simply a combination of both depression and mania or hypomania. Common signs of a mixed episode include:
- depression combined with agitation
- irritability, anxiety, insomnia, distractibility, and racing thoughts.
The mixture of both high energy and low moods create a high risk of suicide. If an individual displays any of these symptoms, professional medical help sought immediately.
Hiring an SSDI Attorney
In cases of filing for benefits with a bipolar disorder, there are no guarantees for qualifying. Your best bet is to ensure you receive the benefits you deserve is by retaining a knowledgeable Social Security lawyer in Utah. While the overwhelming majority of all applications are rejected at both the initial and appeals stages, nearly two-thirds of cases brought to a hearing (with a competent lawyer representing the disable person) are accepted. Call the Summit Disability Law Group and let us help you navigate the complicated legal structure so you can receive the benefits you deserve.