Obtaining SSDI benefits for bipolar disorder

by | Jan 6, 2021 | social security disability

Most residents of Bowling Green are aware that they can obtain financial help if they become totally disabled by a physical injury or other medical condition. However, many people who suffer from bipolar disorder wonder if a mental condition qualifies them for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (SSDI). As with most other medical ailments, the answer depends upon the nature of the affliction and its effect on a person’s ability to work.

Definition of “disability”

The first step in answering the question about bipolar disorder is understanding the definition of disability contained regulations promulgated by the

Social Security Administration. These regulations define “disability” as the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity. Benefits can be paid if the disability results in death or can be expected to last at least 12 months.

Qualifying criteria for bipolar disorder

An applicant for SSDI benefits for bipolar disorder must provide medical documentation of the either of the following:

  • Depressive disorder characterized by at least five of the following:
  • Depressed mood
  • Diminished activity in almost all activities
  • Appetite disturbance
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Decreased energy
  • Feeling of guilt or worthlessness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Bipolar disorder characterized by three or more of the following:
  • Pressured speech
  • Flight of ideas
  • Inflated self-esteem
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Ease of distraction
  • Involvement in activities that have a high probability of a painful outcome
  • Increase in goal-directed activity or psychomotor agitation

The applicant must also demonstrate marked limitation of one or two mental functions, including understanding or applying information, interacting with others, concentration, or managing oneself.

Pursuing benefits

As with most SSDI applications, an initial application based upon bipolar disorder is usually denied, and an appeal will be required. For this reason, the assistance of an attorney familiar with the SSDI process can be essential to a positive outcome.