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Can Someone with Bipolar Disorder Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits?

Yes, depending on the severity and other factors, Social Security disability benefits may be awarded to someone who is disabled due to Bipolar Disorder.

Known more commonly in the past as Manic Depressive Disorder, Bipolar Disorder is a psychiatric illness characterized by periods of extreme euphoria followed by bouts of severe depression. Bipolar Disorder is considered a category of several mood disorders that affects 5.7 million American adults, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. The Disorder normally manifests itself between childhood and late adolescence.

Signs of the depressive phase of this mental illness include persistent feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, anger, guilt, sadness, isolation, fatigue, irritability, lack of motivation, chronic pain, morbid suicidal ideation, self-loathing and depersonalization. In severe cases individuals can become psychotic.

Ways to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits due to Bipolar Disorder

If the Bipolar Disorder is constant and impairs most abilities to function in a work environment, the Claimant may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits if he/she meets the evaluation criteria listed in the Social Security Administration’s “Blue Book”, and has received a medical vocational disability endorsement based on the person’s residual functional ability, education and age. These requirements are also known as meeting the “Listings” and are fairly rigid in evidentiary proof.

To meet the “Listing,” a Claimant must have a history of consistent manic or depressive episodes, or a combination of both. The Claimant’s Bipolar Disorder should result in two (2) of the following three (3) restrictions:

  • Severe limitation of daily activity,
  • Inability to interact with others in a normal way, or
  • Recurring episodes the condition worsening which last for an extended period of time.

A second and easier method of proving Social Security Disability involves evidence of an overall reduction in the Claimant’s remaining functional capacity, based on age, education, and prior work efforts. If the mental residual functioning is very limited and the person is incapable of meeting the demands of basic routine repetitive activities, the Claimant could be determined disabled under this general assessment.

If you, family, or friends are dealing with Bipolar Disorder that interferes with your ability to work and you would like to talk about Social Security Disability benefits, contact our office for a free consultation.