Are you struggling with bipolar disorder? If yes, then you may be eligible to get disability benefits on a monthly basis. 

In the year 2022, nearly 25% of disabled workers got approved for bipolar disorder benefits. This is because of their mental health and other related disorders such as depression and others. 

If you want to increase your chances to get approved for SSDI or SSI benefits, read the article to get detailed insights on how to proceed with your disability claim. 

Can You Get Disability For Bipolar Disorder?

Yes, it is possible to receive bipolar disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) considers it to be a disabling condition that can qualify someone for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for bipolar. 

To be eligible for disability benefits, an individual with bipolar disorder must meet the SSA’s criteria for disability, which include having a severe impairment that significantly affects their ability to work or perform daily activities.

How Does The SSA Define Bipolar Disorder?

According to the SSA, you may qualify for disability benefits based on bipolar disorder. An individual must provide medical evidence showing that their symptoms have lasted for at least one year and that their condition prevents them from engaging in substantial gainful activity.

The process of applying for disability benefits can be complex, and it’s important to have the support of a qualified bipolar disability lawyer to help navigate the process.

If you believe that you may be eligible for disability benefits for bipolar disorder or another disabling condition, it’s recommended that you consult with a disability professional who can assist you in filing your disability claim.

Is Bipolar Disorder a Disability?

Yes. The SSA considers bipolar as a disability as it causes extreme shifts in mood. Whether an individual struggles from bipolar I, bipolar II, or cyclothymia, it may be eligible for disability benefits if it leaves you unable to work. 

Bipolar disorder can be considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other disability rights laws. The ADA defines a disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, such as working, caring for oneself, or communicating with others.

Disability applicants may experience discrimination in various areas of life, including employment, education, and access to health care. However, with appropriate government assistance for bipolar, treatment and support, many people with bipolar disorder can manage their symptoms and lead fulfilling lives.

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings that can range from episodes of depression to episodes of mania or hypomania. These mood swings can be intense and disruptive, affecting a person’s ability to function in daily life.

During a depressive episode, a person with bipolar disorder may experience feelings of sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness, and loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed. They may also have difficulty sleeping, eating, and concentrating.

During a manic or hypomanic episode, a person with bipolar disorder may experience an elevated or irritable mood, increased energy and activity, racing thoughts, decreased need for sleep, inflated self-esteem, and risky behaviors such as spending sprees or reckless driving.

Bipolar disorder can be diagnosed in children, adolescents, and adults, and is typically treated with a combination of medications, therapy, and lifestyle changes. With appropriate treatment and support, many people with bipolar disorder are able to manage their symptoms and lead fulfilling lives.

What Are The Symptoms Of Bipolar Disorder?

The symptoms of bipolar disorder can vary depending on the type and severity of the illness, but some common signs and symptoms include:

Manic Episodes:

  • Feeling overly happy or elated
  • Having a decreased need for sleep
  • Being very talkative
  • Having racing thoughts
  • Feeling like one’s thoughts are moving too fast
  • Having increased energy or agitation
  • Engaging in impulsive behavior, such as spending sprees, reckless driving, or risky sexual behavior

Depressive Episodes:

  • Feeling sad, hopeless, or empty
  • Having a loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities
  • Feeling tired or having low energy
  • Having difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Having trouble concentrating or making decisions
  • Having thoughts of suicide or self-harm

Mixed Episodes:

  • Experiencing symptoms of both manic and depressive episodes simultaneously
  • Feeling very agitated or irritable
  • Having racing thoughts while feeling sad or hopeless

It’s important to note that not everyone with bipolar disorder experiences all of these symptoms, and symptoms can vary in severity and frequency. There are different types of bipolar disorder, including bipolar I, bipolar II, and cyclothymic disorder, each with their own set of diagnostic criteria and symptom patterns. 

Eligibility Criteria Of The SSA For Bipolar Disorder

The Social Security Administration (SSA) evaluates bipolar disorder for Social Security disability benefits by evaluating disability using a specific set of criteria. For a claimant to be eligible, they must demonstrate the following: 

  • Severe limitations in daily functioning due to their bipolar disorder. It can consist of marked impairments in activities of daily living, social functioning, and maintaining concentration or persistence. 
  • Medical evidence that includes psychiatric evaluations, treatment records, which are crucial to support the disability claim. 
  • Your bipolar disorder is serious and long-term i.e. it has been lasting for more than 2 years. Moreover, you are unable to adapt to new environments and changes that were not a part of your daily life. 
  • It is advisable to consult the SSA guidelines or seek help from an experienced disability attorney who can help you by explaining detailed understanding of eligibility criteria.

Apart from the above limitations, you must prove that you have bipolar if you experience:

  • You speak rapidly
  • You are easily distracted
  • Flight of ideas
  • You are experiencing decreased sleep

Before applying for benefits, you must answer the following questions:

  • Do you face difficulty in concentrating while working?
  • You are struggling to follow instructions?
  • Do you face trouble in working consistently?
  • Are you facing difficulty responding to criticism and requests?
  • Have you injured yourself or someone else while disagreeing at work?

What If My Bipolar Disorder Meets The Criteria?

If your medical impairment for bipolar meets the SSA’s criteria you can apply for the SSDI or SSI benefits. If you are still unsure whether to apply or not, you may consult a disability lawyer. However, it is essential that you are filling the application honestly and no misleading information is being provided. 

What If My Bipolar Disorder Doesn’t Meet The Criteria?

If your bipolar disorder doesn’t meet the criteria, you may file an appeal. A legal professional may help to gather additional information that you miss in the initial application process of filing the disability claim. 

If your claim gets rejected at the appeal process you can move your application to an administrative law judge (ALJ) or federal court. 

How Can I Appeal If My Disability Claim For Bipolar Disorder Is Denied?

If your application is denied, you have the right to appeal the decision. You can file an appeal and provide additional information or medical evidence to support your claim. If you want to know reasons of disability denial, read our blog on reasons of denial of disability benefits

What Documentation Is Needed To Support A Disability Claim For Bipolar Disorder?

To support a disability claim for bipolar disorder, some types of medical evidence that you need to submit are documentation of medical history, records of hospitalizations, medical treatment, and mental status examination or psychological testing. 

How Long Does The Disability Application Process For Bipolar Disorder Typically Take?

Qualifying for bipolar disorder disability may take approximately 2 years or even more depending on your disability. There must be an established diagnosis that states your disability is lasting for more than 12 months before applying for Social Security Disability benefits.

How Much Is A Disability Check For Bipolar Disorder?

The average bipolar disorder disability payment was $1,341 every month in December 2022. However, in 2023 the highest possible payment for SSDI was $3,822 per month and for SSI it was $943. In most cases, the maximum payments for SSDI and SSI are similar for every disability. 

The accurate disability benefit will also vary depending on how many work credits you have if you apply for SSDI and your assets if you apply for SSI. 

How Are Long Term Disability Policies Beneficial For Mental Illness?

Long term disability policies are beneficial if they have mental illness limitations mentioned in it. Therefore, you must always check accurately whether your insurance policy includes this limitation or not. 

Policies that have a Mental Illness Limitation may limit your benefits to two years provided that you are struggling with disability due to psychiatric conditions. It may be anxiety or depression. However, every insurance policy is different so the maximum period may also vary based on the terms of the policy. 

Some policies with Mental Illness Limitations may have exemptions for specific mental conditions such as bipolar disorder. Therefore, it becomes essential to review your policy to know whether it specifies bipolar disease as Mental Illness limitation or not. 

How To Apply For Bipolar Disability Benefits?

To get disability benefits for bipolar disorder, you must go through the application process with the Social Security Administration (SSA). Here are the general steps to apply for disability benefits:

  • Gather Medical Records: Collect all medical records related to your bipolar disorder, including doctor’s notes, hospitalizations, treatments, and medications. These records will be used to evaluate the severity of your condition.
  • Check Eligibility: Review the SSA’s eligibility criteria to determine if you meet the requirements for disability benefits. This includes having a severe impairment that significantly affects your ability to work or perform daily activities.
  • Submit an Application: You can apply for disability benefits online at the SSA’s website or by visiting your local SSA office. Make sure to provide accurate and detailed information about your condition, medical treatment, and work history.
  • Attend a Medical Evaluation: As part of the application process, you may be required to attend a medical evaluation to assess the severity of your condition.
  • Wait for a Decision: The SSA will review your application and medical records to determine if you meet the eligibility criteria for disability benefits. This process can take several months or more.  

It is crucial to understand that the procedure of applying for disability benefits can be intricate, and it is highly advisable to seek support from competent Social Security Disability Lawyers. They can assist you in navigating the process and enhance your likelihood of obtaining approval.

3 Tips For Getting Disability With Bipolar Disorder

The disability application process is complex. However, there are some tips that can make your process easier. They are as follows:

  • Consult a therapist every week and a psychiatrist on monthly basis: It will help the SSA to know that your medical condition is severe and you are taking treatment seriously. Getting frequent care is necessary as getting benefits.  
  • Strengthen your medical records: Medical records play a fundamental role in your application process. You must work closely with your healthcare provider so that you can have all records to show the seriousness of your condition. Moreover, if you have been hospitalized or have been injured owing to your bipolar problem, you must retain all of your medical records. They will serve as evidence. 
  • Talk to an attorney: Most people who struggle with disability do not know that the application process is a legal matter. Doctors may help to reduce your pain but they are unaware of the entire procedure of disability claim. An experienced Social Security Disability Lawyer who has experience may help you build the strongest case, increase your chances of getting bipolar disability benefits, and will represent you during appeals court.