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Applying for Disability Benefits with Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a psychological condition that can seriously interfere with daily life. When the condition becomes so severe that it prevents you from continuing to work at your job, you may be eligible for disability benefits. However, qualifying for benefits because of a psychological disorder is often more complicated than qualifying with a physical problem.

Bipolar Disorder

Here is some important information regarding eligibility for benefits due to bipolar disorder.

Basic Qualifications

There are a few basic qualifications you must meet before the Social Security Administration (SSA) considers your case. To qualify for benefits, your condition must be severe enough that it meets the conditions included on the List of Impairments or you cannot function at a level that allows you to hold down regular employment.

Qualifying Through the List of Impairments

The List of Impairments notes several specific conditions to qualify for disability benefits. First, a doctor must officially diagnose you with bipolar disorder. You must also have a noted history of severe manic and depressive behaviors. Additionally, you must have experienced at least three of the following symptoms associated with mania:

– Hyperactivity

– Unnaturally fast or frenzied speech

– Quickly changing thought patterns or ideas

– Inflated self-esteem

– Inability to sleep or decreased need for sleep

– Easily distracted

– Engaging in highly-risky behaviors

– Paranoid thinking, delusions, or hallucinations

Additionally, you must have exhibited at least four of the following symptoms associated with depression:

– Lack of energy

– Difficulty thinking or concentrating

– Loss of interest in activities

– Difficulty in performing routine physical activities

– Disturbance in typical appetite

– Disturbed sleep

– Feelings of guilt or worthlessness

– Thoughts of suicide

– Paranoid thinking, delusions, or hallucinations

Lastly, you must have also exhibited any two of the following issues:

– Episodes of symptoms worsening over time

– Severe difficulty in social functioning

– Severe difficulty in concentration

– Severe restriction in daily living activities

If you do not fit within the confines of these parameters, you may still be eligible for benefits if you meet the following standards:

– Your diagnosis was at least two years before your application date

– You have improved somewhat with medication

– You are still unable to work due to your condition

If you meet the above standards, you must also have experienced one of the following issues to qualify for benefits:

– Repeated episodes of decompensation

– You condition prevents you from being able to take on even a small amount of additional mental demands

– A history spanning one to two years of the ability to function outside a highly supportive environment

Qualifying Based on Reduced Functional Capacity

If you do not qualify for benefits based on the parameters set by the List of Impairments, you may still qualify due to your inability to work. To qualify via this standard, the SSA will assess your ability to function at your job and assign you a rating indicating your level of ability to do skilled work, semi-skilled work or unskilled work. The rating is formally known as your Reduced Functioning Capacity (RFC).

Once you have received your RFC rating, the SSA determines what type of jobs you can handle at that level. Most often, the SSA figures those who suffer from bipolar disorder can at least perform unskilled work. However, if you are over the age of 55 and do not have education beyond grade school, you will likely be classified as not qualified for unskilled labor. You may also qualify for benefits if you have a physical ailment as well as bipolar disorder and cannot hold down a job.

Medical Evidence

Qualifying for disability benefits because of bipolar disorder is largely dependent on medical evidence to prove the claim. The SSA expects to see your medical records and your entire history of bipolar disorder. You need to include documentation of severe manic and depressive episodes and all treatments that have been attempted. You must provide a list of any medications you have taken, including mood stabilizers and any side effects you have experienced. You will also need to give honest account of how well you follow the prescribed therapies your doctor has ordered and how they have helped or hindered your progress in functioning within your day-to-day life and ability to hold a job.

If you have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and think you may be eligible for benefits, your first step is to contact a qualified legal representative. The Law Office of Daniel Berger has the experience and expertise to help you get the benefits you deserve. Don’t wait, call us today for a free consultation.

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