Nov 122012

qualifying medical conditions disability lawYes, in some cases, a person with bipolar disorder would qualify for Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

A person who is diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder who is actively receiving treatment and is unable to work would qualify for Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits.

Bipolar Disorder is a mental illness characterized by repeated periods of euphoria and activity (called mania), most often followed by periods of extreme depression. To be diagnosed with bipolar disorder rather than normal mood swings or clinical depression, the patient must experience several symptoms of mania for at least a week. (Bipolar Disorder was previously called Manic Depression.)

Social Security considers Bipolar Disorder (both Bipolar 1 and Bipolar 2) an  Affective Disorder, or “A disorder characterized by a disturbance of mood, accompanied by a full or partial manic or depressive syndrome. Mood refers to a prolonged emotion that colors the wold psychic life; it generally involves either depression or elation.” A person who satisfies the Affective Disorder Listing would, by law, satisfy the medical requirements for Social Security Disability and SSI benefits (Listing of Impairment 12.04 Affective Disorders). To satisfy the Listing, a person must have medically documented persistence of severe episodes of both depression and mania.

To qualify as mania, you should have experienced at least three of the following symptoms during a manic episode:

  • high energy and activity
  • rapidly changing thoughts
  • fast, frenzied talking
  • decreased sleep
  • high self-esteem
  • easy distractibility
  • risk-taking behavior
  • paranoia, delusions, or hallucinations

To qualify as depression, you need to have experienced at least four of the following symptoms during a depressive episode:

  • decreased energy or activity
  • loss of interest or pleasure in activities
  • difficulty concentrating or thinking
  • poor appetite or weight gain
  • too much sleep or too little sleep
  • guilty or worthless feelings
  • suicidal thoughts, or
  • paranoia, delusions, or hallucinations.

To qualify as Bipolar Syndrome, you need to have a history of episodic periods manifested by the full symptomatic presence of both manic and depressive syndromes.

In addition, the symptoms must cause you to have (1) significant restrictions in your normal activities of daily living, (2) maintaining social functioning, (3) maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace, and/or (4) repeated episodes of decompensation (such as hospitalizations). You may also meet the Listing if you have medically documented history of a chronic affective disorder of at least 2 years duration that has caused more than a minimal limitation of ability to do basic work activities, with symptoms or signs currently attenuated by medication or psychosocial support with (1) repeated episodes of decompensation, each of extended duration, (2) a residual disease process that has resulted in such a marginal adjustment that even a minimal increase in mental demands or change in the environment would be predicted to cause the individual to decompensate, or (3) current history of 1 or more years inability to function outside of a highly supportive living arrangement, with an indication of continued need for such an arrangement.

Medical-Vocational Allowance / Inability to Work

Some people with Bipolar Disorder are not able to satisfy the Listing but are unable to work. People might have problems at work for a wide variety of reasons relating to Bipolar Disorder.  As long as the inability to work will persist for at least 12 months, the person qualifies for Social Security Disability or SSI benefits. You may be able to work some of the time over the 12 month period, but if you cannot work a standard 40 hour per week job on a consistent basis (for example, if your disorder would cause you to be terminated by your employer), you meet the medical requirements for Social Security Disability and SSI benefits.

We Can Help!!

We have helped many people with moderate to severe Bipolar Disorder obtain Social Security Disability and/or SSI benefits.  We are also able to assist our clients with obtaining helpful medical care by recommending facilities that are low-cost or no-cost. You should Contact Us for a FREE attorney consultation if you want to apply for Social Security Disability or SSI benefits, or if you were denied benefits.