Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is one of the mental health disorders that interferes with your work and prevents you from doing day-to-day activities. In the year 2021, the SSA approved disability benefits for nearly 1 million workers who were struggling with BPD and other depression-related disorders such as bipolar disorder

To guide you on whether you are eligible for the BPD disability benefits, how SSA defines BPD, how to apply for borderline personality disorder, and the eligibility criteria for the same. 

Is BPD a Disability?

Yes, BPD is considered a disability by the Social Security Administration guidelines if it makes it impossible for an individual to work or interferes with their job. The Social Security Administration recognizes BPD as a disabling condition under its Blue Book listing for mental disorders. Individuals with BPD may be eligible for disability benefits through the SSA’s programs, such as SSDI and SSI.

To qualify, claimants must provide medical evidence demonstrating their condition’s severity and the consequences of their ability to work and engage in substantial gainful activity. Individuals struggling with BPD may seek professional assistance to help in the disability claim process. 

Can You Get Disability Benefits For BPD?

Obtaining a disability for Borderline Personality Disorder can be challenging because it is considered a mental health condition that does not have a specific listing in the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book, which outlines the qualifying criteria for disability benefits. However, it is still possible to receive BPD disability benefits if you can demonstrate that your symptoms significantly impair your ability to work and meet the eligibility requirements.

To qualify for Borderline personality disability, you will need to provide substantial medical evidence, including documentation from mental health professionals, treatment records, therapy notes, and any relevant hospitalizations. It is important to show that your symptoms significantly impact your ability to perform work-related activities for at least 12 months, such as maintaining concentration, interacting with others, and adapting to changes in the workplace.

The SSA will evaluate factors such as age, education, work history, job experience, and Residual Functional Capacity to analyze whether an individual can perform their work. 

How Does SSA Define Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)?

BPD is a mental health disorder characterized by persistent patterns of instability in emotions, self-image, relationships, and behavior. People with BPD often experience unstable emotions, have difficulties with self-identity, struggle with impulsivity, and exhibit challenging interpersonal relationships. 

It often requires long-term treatment, including therapy and medication, to manage symptoms and improve functioning. Some common qualifying conditions you may experience alongside BPD are anxiety, depression, cognitive impairment, and social and interpersonal difficulties.

What Causes Borderline Personality Disorder?

The exact cause of Borderline Personality Disorder is not fully understood. However, it is believed to be a complex condition that arises from a combination of genetic, biological, and environmental factors. Some potential factors that may contribute to the development of BPD include:

  • Genetics: BPD tends to run in families, suggesting a genetic predisposition to the disorder. 
  • Brain abnormalities: Brain imaging studies have shown differences in the structure and functioning of the brain in individuals with BPD.
  • Childhood trauma: Many individuals with BPD have a history of childhood trauma, such as physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, neglect, or early loss. Traumatic experiences during childhood may disrupt the development of emotional regulation skills and contribute to the development of BPD.
  • Invalidating environment: Growing up in an environment that lacks emotional support, validation, and consistent boundaries can also contribute to the development of BPD. 
  • Neurochemical imbalances: There may be disruptions in certain neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, which play a role in regulating mood, impulse control, and emotional stability.

What Are The Symptoms Of BPD?

Borderline Personality Disorder is characterized by a wide range of symptoms that can vary in intensity and presentation among individuals. Common symptoms of BPD include:

  • Emotional instability: People with BPD often experience intense and rapidly shifting emotions. They may feel intense anger, sadness, anxiety, or depression that can be triggered by seemingly minor events. 
  • Unstable relationships: Individuals with BPD tend to have unstable and intense relationships. They may struggle with fears of abandonment, have difficulties establishing and maintaining boundaries, and experience frequent conflicts with loved ones.
  • Identity disturbances: BPD can be associated with a persistent and unstable self-image. People with BPD may have an unclear sense of who they are, struggle with feelings of emptiness, and undergo rapid shifts in values, goals, and interests.
  • Impulsive behaviors: Impulsivity is a common feature of BPD. This can manifest in reckless behaviors such as substance abuse, binge eating, reckless spending, self-harm, or engaging in risky sexual activities.
  • Suicidal thoughts or self-harming behaviors: Individuals with BPD may experience chronic feelings of emptiness, and hopelessness, and have a higher risk of suicidal thoughts or engaging in self-harming behaviors as a way to cope with emotional distress.
  • Intense fear of abandonment: A pervasive fear of being abandoned or rejected by loved ones is often present in BPD. This fear can lead to frantic efforts to avoid real or perceived abandonment, including engaging in clingy or impulsive behaviors.

Questions To Ask Yourself  Before Applying For BPD

Before applying for disability benefits with borderline personality disorder (BPD), it’s essential to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are my symptoms significantly impairing my ability to work? 
  • Have I explored and exhausted all available treatment options?
  • Can I provide substantial medical evidence to support my claim?
  • How long have I been experiencing symptoms?
  • Have I consulted with a disability attorney?

Eligibility Criteria For Getting Approved For Borderline Personality Disorder

The SSA has specific criteria for mental health conditions such as BPD. To be eligible, you need to prove that your BPD is ongoing, and persistent and prevents you from holding a job. 

When an applicant applies for the benefits, the SSA will analyze conditions listed under sections A and B stated below. 

Section A:

An applicant needs to show their medical documents that state one of the following patterns:

  • Distrust and suspiciousness of others
  • Disregard for and violation of the rights of others
  • Instability of interpersonal relationships
  • Detachment from social relationships
  • Excessive emotionality 
  • Attention seeking
  • Inadequacy feelings 
  • Excessive need to be taken care of
  • Recurrent and impulsive behavioral outbursts

Section B:

An applicant shows extreme limitations in at least one of the areas mentioned below:

  • Ability to understand or apply information
  • Social interaction
  • Ability to manage and adapt oneself
  • Capability to concentrate and maintain consistency in the work

What Happens If You Meet The SSA’s Criteria For Borderline Personality Disorder?

After meeting the BPD criteria, you can apply for the Social Security Disability Benefits as soon as possible. However, you can apply even if you think you are not eligible by consulting an attorney and there is no penalty for applying for the disability.

  • You may apply if you have been diagnosed with BPD and your medical condition is not improving even after treatment. Moreover, you are struggling to manage your emotions, behavior, and have difficulty in completing tasks independently. 
  • You can wait if your symptoms may improve with time or within 12 months or your BPD is manageable and is not interfering with your work.
  • You may not apply if you are working and earning at least $1,550 per month and it is difficult to manage.

What Happens If You Do Not Meet The SSA’s Criteria For BPD?

An applicant can still apply if their initial application is rejected. The primary thing is to ensure that you may provide medical documentation such as treatment program results and test results and your BPD prevents you from work.

Nearly 20% of applicants get approved for initial application. Therefore, you must not get discouraged and must file an appeal before the administrative law judge (ALJ). You can even take the help of a disability lawyer who will guide you and help to increase your chances of approval.

Which Type Of Benefits Should You Apply For?

When applying for disability benefits with borderline personality disorder (BPD), there are two main types of benefits to consider: Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income. The type of benefits you should apply for depends on your work history, financial situation, and eligibility criteria.

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is available to individuals with a work history and paid into the Social Security system through payroll taxes. To qualify for SSDI, you must have earned enough work credits based on your age and have a recent work history. 
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a need-based program designed to assist individuals with limited income and resources. It provides cash assistance to help with basic needs such as food, shelter, and clothing. To qualify for SSI, you must have limited income and resources, including limited assets.

How To Apply For Borderline Personality Disability

Applying for disability benefits based on Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) requires thorough documentation and presentation of your medical condition, its impact on your daily functioning, and how it significantly impairs your ability to work. Some steps to help you with the application process are as follows:

  • Gather medical evidence: Collect all relevant medical records, including diagnoses, treatment history, therapy notes, hospitalizations, and medication details.
  • Work with mental health professionals: Consult with your treating mental health professionals, such as psychiatrists or therapists, and ask for their support in documenting your BPD symptoms, limitations, and the resulting functional impairments.
  • Complete the disability application: Contact your local Social Security Administration office to start the disability application process. You can apply online at SSA’s official website, over the phone, or in person.
  • Follow up and appeal if needed: Stay proactive throughout the process and follow up on your application’s progress. If your initial application is denied, don’t lose hope. Your disability claim may get denied initially, but you have the right to file an appeal. 

How Much Is The Disability Check For BPD?

An applicant’s monthly benefit may not vary depending on your medical condition. However, your work history and income history may affect your check size. In most cases, the maximum benefits for SSDI in 2023 are $3,627, and for SSI is $914.

Disability Benefits Denied? Contact An Experienced Lawyer

Consider seeking assistance from a Social Security disability lawyer who is experienced in mental health cases. They can help you navigate the complex application process, gather and organize necessary documentation, and ensure your case is presented effectively. They can provide guidance and representation during the appeals process.