Bipolar Disorder and SSDI Benefits

What are the requirements for receiving SSDI benefits if I have bipolar disorder?

It is believed that approximately 5.7 million people across the nation suffer from bipolar disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.  Bipolar disorder is a serious mental disorder characterized by extreme changes in mood, energy, thoughts, and behavior.  Bipolar disorder is also commonly referred to as manic depression, due to the sufferer’s ability to alternate between mania or highs and depression or lows.  

Bipolar disorder can make it challenging for those who suffer from it to perform work and daily living tasks.  Swings in behavior can lead to employees frequently calling off work when depressed or struggling to control their actions when in a manic state.  For some people with severe bipolar disorder that is not well controlled through medication, it may be a possibility to apply for Social Security Disability benefits.  

Bipolar Disorder in the Blue Book

The symptoms and severity of bipolar disorder vary greatly among individuals.  Bipolar disorder will typically manifest sometime between childhood and adulthood.  It is usually diagnosed following a patient, parent, or loved one’s reported behavioral abnormalities.  At times, bipolar disorder can lead to psychosis.  For someone diagnosed with bipolar to receive SSDI benefits, their condition must be constant and impair their ability to function in the workplace.  

The Social Security Administration includes bipolar disorder among its Listing of Impairments.  Per the Listing, the SSA requires that a claimant with bipolar disorder have a history of symptomatic depressive episodes, manic episodes, or a combination of both.  Once this is met, the claimant must demonstrate two of the following:

  • A severe limitation in daily activity;
  • Recurring episodes of lasting decompensation; or 
  • The inability to interact with others in a normal manner.

Those who do not meet these criteria could still qualify under the broader category of chronic affective disorders, of which bipolar is included.  Criteria under this category include at least two years of a documented chronic affective disorder and limitations or prolonged decompensations, despite medication. 

Applying for SSDI benefits can be complex and many claimants are initially denied.  For assistance with preparing your SSDI claim or appealing the denial of your action, contact our experienced Michigan social security disability attorney today for an initial consultation.