How Do Social Security Disability Benefits Work For Someone With Bipolar Disorder?

by Jun 28, 2018Disability Benefits

Home » Blog » Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) » How Do Social Security Disability Benefits Work For Someone With Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive disorder, qualifies as a disability in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Blue Book. You can qualify for disability benefits if your bipolar disorder meets certain criteria and prevents you from securing and maintaining gainful employment. In fact, the SSA offers two different disability programs for which you could be eligible based on your income and work history. A Social Security disability lawyer from the Disability Advantage Group, can review your situation and let you know which program gives you the best chance of approval.

Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits for Bipolar Disorder

The best way to go about applying for Social Security disability for bipolar disorder depends on whether your diagnosis meets the Blue Book criteria. Bipolar disorder has its own listing in the Social Security Blue Book. This book is a master list of conditions that qualify for disability benefits if the applicant meets the listed requirements. For many medical conditions, these requirements can be stringent, which is why most people who get approved for Social Security disability do not do so based on a Blue Book listing.

The Blue Book Listing for Bipolar Disorder

The Blue Book listing for bipolar disorder requires three characteristics of your condition to be eligible for benefits of the following:

  • Pressured speech
  • Flighty thought
  • Augmented self-esteem
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Increased susceptibility to distraction
  • Decreased risk aversion
  • Increase in goal-directed activity or psychomotor agitation

Also, your diagnosis must show an extreme limitation in at least one or a marked limitation in at least two of the following areas:

  • Ability to understand, remember, and apply information
  • Ability to interact with others appropriately
  • Ability to focus on tasks and maintain pace
  • Ability to manage yourself and adapt to new situations

If you do not meet the above criteria, Social Security offers an alternative path to receive disability benefits based on a Blue Book listing for bipolar disorder. You can meet a separate set of criteria, which involves proving at least a two-year history of both of the following:

  1. Medical treatment, medical intervention, or mental health therapy in a structured setting that is both ongoing to diminish the symptoms of your bipolar disorder and make you capable of functioning in society
  2. Inability to adjust to new situations or adapt to changes that are not already a part of your day-to-day life

If You Do Not Meet the Blue Book Criteria for Bipolar Disorder

If you do not meet the Blue Book criteria for bipolar disorder—and many recipients of Social Security disability for manic depression do not—we can pursue a separate path to approval. This method involves completing a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) exam. The results of this test provide the closest thing possible to an objective measure of the way your bipolar disorder limits you on a day-to-day basis.

The SSA provides the RFC test, and your doctor completes it. At your free initial case evaluation with one of our disability attorneys, we will go over this test with you and show you how we can use the results of the test to make the case that your bipolar disorder keeps you from substantial gainful activity and thus makes you eligible for benefits.

Social Security Disability Insurance vs. Supplemental Security Income

As mentioned, the SSA offers two separate disability programs. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is for applicants with substantial work histories; Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is for those with limited incomes and assets. While SSDI requires you to have worked a certain amount and to have paid into the Social Security system via payroll taxes, SSI places caps on both your earnings and total assets.

As a general rule, most applicants who have worked too little to receive SSDI can receive SSI based on low income, and most applicants who make too much money or have too high a net worth for SSI can qualify for SSDI based on their work history. In certain situations, a person can receive both SSDI and SSI. Our team can help you determine which of these programs (or both) to pursue.

Call 865-566-0800 to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation With a Social Security Disability Attorney

The disability lawyers at the Disability Advantage Group, want to help you win the benefits you deserve for your bipolar disorder. Our initial case evaluation is free and comes with no risk or obligation. Call 865-566-0800 to schedule an appointment today.