Learn how to win a bipolar disability case in this simple guide. Get actionable tips and Social Security requirements. Find out if you qualify.
Bipolar Disorder affects about 2.8% percent of people age 18 and older living in the United States. (Source: National Institute of Mental Health)
Depression, anxiety, and agitation can overtake your life if you have bipolar disorder. This serious mental health condition can affect your job and daily life, putting your financial well-being at risk.
However, you may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits to ease your financial burden.
This guide gives you actionable steps to win a bipolar disability case. Read on to discover how.
Is Bipolar a Disability?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) classifies bipolar disorder as a disability. However, you must meet the work and medical requirements outlined in the SSA Blue Book.
Can You Get Disability for Bipolar?
You can receive disability benefits for bipolar disorder or similar mental disorders if you cannot work and meet the SSA’s medical requirements.
The SSA has two programs that provide monthly income and health insurance to people who cannot work because of bipolar disorder:
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): Benefits for people who have worked and paid Social Security taxes.
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI): Benefits for people with a limited income.
How to Win a Bipolar Disability Case
To win your bipolar disability case, you must meet the SSA’s work and medical requirements.
However, proving you qualify for disability benefits can be difficult with a condition like bipolar. Follow these four steps to prove your condition and get the benefits you deserve:
1. Meet the Impairments Listed in the SSA Blue Book (12.04)
To qualify for bipolar disability, you must meet three or more of the following symptoms listed in the SSA Blue Book:
- Pressured speech
- Flight of ideas
- Inflated self-esteem
- Decreased need for sleep
- Involvement in dangerous or painful activities
- Increase in goal-directed activity or psychomotor agitation
You must also show an extreme limitation of one, or moderate limitation of two, of the following mental functioning areas:
- Interact with others
- Understand, remember, or apply information
- Adapt to change or manage your emotions
- Concentrate, persist, or maintain pace on tasks
Or prove your mental disorder is “serious and persistent.” This means you medically documented your bipolar disorder symptoms for at least two years. In addition, you must provide evidence that:
- You received medical treatment, mental health therapy, psychosocial support, or a highly structured setting that diminishes your symptoms.
- You experience marginal adjustment. For example, a minimal capacity to adapt to changes in your environment.
2. Prove You Cannot Work Because of Your Condition
Symptoms like depression, mood swings, irritability, and trouble concentrating can make it hard to do your job.
Between 30% and 60% of people never return to work after their bipolar symptoms start.
You will need to prove your symptoms are disabling and prevent you from working to qualify for benefits.
One way to prove your mental condition prevents you from working is to ask your doctor to fill out a Residual Functional Capacity assessment form.
The Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) is a medical examination the SSA looks at to determine if you qualify for disability benefits. It assesses your physical and mental limitations in the workforce caused by your disabling condition.
Also Read: How SSA Grid Rules Can Help Win Your Case
3. Document Your Debilitating Symptoms and How They Affect Your Ability to Work
Supporting medical evidence is vital to winning your bipolar disability case. Document the symptoms affecting your daily life and ability to work.
For example, document all severe limitations of daily activity,
inability to interact with others, or recurring manic episodes. The more detailed, the better.
You could also ask friends, family members, and colleagues to document behavioral abnormalities. A social worker, psychiatrist, nurse, or others involved in your clinical assessment can corroborate this additional supporting evidence.
4. Get a Medical Statement About Your Bipolar Disorder
Increase your chance of getting Social Security disability benefits with a disability doctor letter.
A disability letter is a medical source statement from your primary care doctor. It helps support your claim for Social Security benefits by accurately detailing your medical condition, its effects on your daily life, and your ability to maintain gainful employment.
Your doctor should include specific details of your mental condition supported by credible evidence consistent with your claim.
What Are the 4 Types of Bipolar Disorder?
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, there are four types of bipolar Disorder. These types include:
There are four primary types of bipolar Disorder. They include:
- Bipolar 1 Disorder
- Bipolar 2 Disorder
- Cyclothymic Disorder
- Unspecified Bipolar Disorder
1. Bipolar 1 Disorder
Bipolar I disorder is the most severe type of bipolar disorder. Someone with this type may experience:
- Manic episodes that last for at least seven days
- Severe manic episodes that require hospitalization
Depressive episodes can also occur, typically lasting at least two weeks.
2. Bipolar 2 Disorder
Someone with Bipolar 2 Disorder has both manic and depressive episodes. They may experience:
- At least one depressive episode lasting two weeks
- At least one hypomanic episode lasting four days
This type usually also has less intense manic periods than Bipolar 1 Disorder.
3. Cyclothymic Disorder
Cyclothymic Disorder is a mood disorder that causes unstable emotional highs and lows. People with Cyclothymia typically experience Hypomania and mild depression for at least two years.
The mood shifts in Cyclothymia are not as severe as the first two bipolar disorders. However, Cyclothymia can develop into Bipolar 1 or Bipolar 2.
4. Unspecified Bipolar Disorder
An Unspecified Bipolar Disorder is when a person’s symptoms do not fit into the other three bipolar categories. However, they still experience unusual manic moods.
If You Have Bipolar Disorder, Get Help From a Trusted Disability Attorney
The attorneys at Evans Disability have years of combined experience helping people with mental and physical health disability claims.
Find out how we can help you win your bipolar disorder case and get approved for disability benefits.
How to Win a Bipolar Disability Case FAQ
Common questions about bipolar disorder disability cases.
What Are the Chances of Getting Disability for Bipolar Disorder?
According to the Social Security Administration, applicants have a two-third chance of receiving disability benefits for bipolar disorder. This means 2 out of 3 applicants applying for disability benefits for bipolar disorder will qualify.
How Much Money Do You Get for Bipolar Disability?
If approved for Social Security Disability Income (SSDI), you will receive an amount similar to the average national monthly amount of $1,258.
If approved for Social Security Income (SSI), you will receive the federal monthly maximum benefit of $841 minus any income you receive, plus individual state SSI supplemental benefits.
How Long Does It Take To Get Disability for Bipolar Disorder?
Qualifying for bipolar disorder disability benefits can take about two years or more.
For example, you first need to establish a long enough diagnosis. Generally, you must have bipolar disorder for at least a full year before you can apply for Social Security Disability benefits. This is because the SSA wants to ensure your disability does affect your ability to work.
After establishing a diagnosis, you can apply for Social Security benefits. The approval process can take up to a year or more, depending on your circumstances.