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Does SSA Qualify Bipolar Disorder as a Disability?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers disability benefits for individuals with severe symptoms of bipolar disorder that prevent them from working. Benefits can be obtained by meeting the SSA’s specific criteria for disabilities related to mood disorders or by demonstrating an inability to perform basic, unskilled job tasks. Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that involves extreme shifts in mood, energy levels, and thoughts which can significantly interfere with daily activities and make completing even simple tasks quite difficult. Individuals experiencing this condition who have difficulty working may be able to receive financial assistance through the SSA.

How Do I Get Approved for Benefits with Bipolar Disorder?

People with bipolar disorder may qualify for disability benefits if they can show that their symptoms cause marked or extreme limitations in activities of daily living, such as understanding instructions, interacting with others, concentrating and maintaining pace in tasks, and managing themselves. To prove these limitations, it is wise to get a medical source statement from a treating psychiatrist, psychologist, counselor, or therapist. Those who cannot function without a supportive environment might still be eligible even if they do not have marked or extreme limitations.

When applying for disability benefits, applicants should take time to fill out an activities of daily living questionnaire to accurately describe how bipolar symptoms affect them during manic or hypomanic episodes and depressive episodes. The Social Security Administration (SSA) considers this evidence along with medical records and statements from doctors to calculate the applicant’s mental residual functional capacity; that is what activities they can still do despite any mental limitations. If under the age of 50, the SSA needs to see that an applicant cannot do low-stress jobs with little public contact before finding them disabled vocationally. Additionally, medication side effects must also be taken into account; for example, drowsiness caused by Depakote may make holding any job difficult.