Bipolar Disorder and Social Security Disability

Today’s post is a special guest blog post written by Molly Clarke, a writer for the Social Security Disability Help Blog. Enjoy!

Bipolar Disorder and Social Security Disability Benefits

The symptoms of bipolar disorder manifest as serious shifts in mood, energy, thinking, and behavior – ranging from intense mania to severe depression. Cycles of bipolar disorder can last for days, weeks, or even months—interfering with a person’s ability to complete daily activities. The symptoms of bipolar disorder can also impede job performance, resulting in time spent away from work and even the inability to maintain employment.

Fortunately, the Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes that individuals suffering from illness or injury may require financial support. For this reason, the SSA offers Social Security Disability benefits to those who cannot work because of a serious health condition. These benefits are available to young adults who cannot work due to disability or illness, including those with bipolar disorder. This article is intended to give you an overview of the Social Security Disability system and outline the information that you need to know before applying for benefits.

Social Security Disability Benefit Programs

Social Security Disability benefits are available through two different programs provided by the Social Security Administration. The first of these programs is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). SSDI is available to disabled individuals who have worked and paid Social Security taxes in the past. The benefits received through this program are largely dependent on an applicant’s work history. For more information about SSDI, visit this page.

The second benefit program available is more conducive to the needs of young adults. This program is called Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and was created to provide benefits for disabled individuals of all ages who earn very little income. Due to lack of employment experience and high financial need, it is often easier for young adults with bipolar disorder to qualify for benefits through the SSI program than through the SSDI program. To qualify, applicants must fall within the SSA’s specific financial limits. Learn more about qualifying for SSI here.

It is important to note that applicants who qualify for SSDI but do not exceed SSI financial limits can potentially qualify for benefits from both programs.

Medical Qualifications

Aside from financial need and inability to work, applicants must also qualify medically for disability benefits. In order to determine an applicant’s medical eligibility, the SSA references the blue book – an official manual of disabling conditions and medical criteria. Bipolar disorder is covered under section 12.04 of the blue book entitled Affective Disorders.

This blue book listing requires that applicants with bipolar disorder have a medically documented two-year history of bipolar disorder that has affected their ability to work. To meet this listing, applicants must also be currently receiving treatment. When evaluating a claim based on bipolar disorder, the SSA will look for evidence of one of the following:

• Repeated, length episodes of decompensation
• Frequent decompensation
• A year or more in a highly supportive living arrangement with a need for the continuation of this arrangement.

Access this complete blue book listing here.

Social Security Disability Application Process

Before applying for disability benefits, applicants should collect copies of all relevant medical records. These may include documentation of your diagnosis, history of hospitalizations, physical evaluations, mental evaluations, history of treatments, and any other related documents. You should also collect written statements from all treating physicians that can attest to your symptoms and inability to work.

Once you are ready to begin the Social Security Disability application process, you can do so online or through a Social Security office. The actual application is made up of several forms, it is important that you complete forms thoroughly and accurately. Any missing or inconsistent information can cause delays in your claim.

Receiving a Decision

Once an individual has applied for benefits, it may be several months before they receive a decision on their claim. Applicants whose initial claim is denied have 60 days in which to appeal the decision. Although the appeals process takes more time, it is often a necessary step toward being approved for benefits. In fact, many more applicants are approved during the appeals processes than during the initial application.

Although the application and appeal process are sometimes difficult, applicants must remember that the Social Security Disability programs were designed to help them. After the application process is complete and benefits are awarded, your financial burden will be lessened and you will be able to focus on your health.

For more information about Social Security Disability benefits and bipolar disorder, visit Social Security Disability Help.

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3 responses to “Bipolar Disorder and Social Security Disability

  1. Sarah, thanks for posting this. I am in the process of fighting my denial. I have found limited info. on working part time if you do get benefits to help supplement your income.

    • Google “SSDI Secrets” and you’ll find all the info you need. Mainly, if you can hold a part time job, you can hold a full time job in the eyes of SSA. You cannot be gainfully employed but don’t quit your job without being able to blame your mental illness. Seriously, a wealth of info on Google, even YouTube. Best of luck.

  2. Pingback: A Labor Day Mental Health Monday | A Way With Words

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