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Receiving Disability Benefits for Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder was once known as Manic Depressive disorder due to periods of extreme euphoria, followed by bouts of severe depression. Bipolar disorder can be considered a disability under the Social Security disability program if you meet the work and medical requirements. Specifically, you must have 40 work credits to receive SS disability benefits, 20 of which were earned over the past 10 years, ending with the year you become disabled. Once you meet the work, resource, and income requirements, you must meet the medical requirements outlined in the SSA impairment listings.
According to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, bipolar disorder affects about 5.7 million adult Americans. The median age of onset for bipolar disorder is 25 years, although the illness can begin in early childhood, or as late as the 50s. More than two-thirds of those with bipolar disorder have at least one close relative with the illness, indicating a genetic component.
Having bipolar disorder can definitely affect your ability to work and make a living, as well as impacting your ability to accomplish normal day-to-day tasks. It can be important to have an experienced Social Security disability attorney to assist you with your application and/or appeals as you seek disability benefits. The attorneys from Carmichael Law Group understand what you are going through and want to help you obtain the disability benefits you need. Because SS disability is what we do, we are highly skilled in every aspect of receiving disability benefits.
We are particularly skilled in telling your story. Your story clearly shows the impact your impairment has had on your ability to work as well as your ability to handle normal, day-to-day activities. Once we ensure you meet SSA’s five-step review process, we will begin crafting your story to give you the very best chance of receiving the disability benefits you need and deserve.
The five-step review process includes:
- Do you make too much money?
- Is your impairment severe?
- Is your condition in the official impairment list?
- Does your condition interfere with the type of work you did previously?
- Can you do a different job?
What Is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder is a disorder of the brain that results in significant changes to an individual’s ability to function, energy levels, and mood. Those with bipolar disorder experience intense mood episodes, that can be categorized as manic (abnormally happy or irritable) or depressive (abnormally sad).
Those with bipolar disorder may also have periods of “neutral” moods as well. While all humans experience fluctuations of their mood, these fluctuations generally last hours, rather than days, and are not characterized by the extreme degree of behavioral changes.
Bipolar disorder includes bipolar I, bipolar II, and cyclothymic disorder. Between 80 and 90 percent of those diagnosed with bipolar disorder have a close relative with bipolar disorder or depression. Environmental factors including the use of drugs or alcohol, extreme stress, or sleep disruption can trigger bipolar episodes among vulnerable people.
Is Bipolar Disorder a Disability Under Social Security Disability Rules?
Section 12.04 of the impairment listings covers bipolar disorder. To qualify for benefits you must have medical documentation of your bipolar disorder, characterized by at least three of the following symptoms:
- An unusually decreased need for sleep
- Inflated self-esteem
- Pressured speech
- Flight of ideas
- Extreme distractibility
- An increase in psychomotor agitation or goal-directed activities
- Involvement in activities that have a high probability of unrecognized painful consequences
Extreme limitations of one, or marked (severe) limitations of two of the following mental functioning areas:
- Adapting or managing oneself
- Concentrating, persisting or maintaining pace
- Interacting with others
- Understanding, remembering, or applying information
- Your bipolar disorder is serious and persistent with a documented history over a period of at least two years
- You have documentation of medical treatment, mental health therapies, psychosocial support(s), or a highly structured setting that is ongoing, and that diminishes the symptoms and signs of your bipolar disorder, AND
- You have minimal capacity to adapt to changes in your environment or to demands that are not already a part of your daily life.
Providing Proof for Bipolar Disorder and Disability Benefits
Even the most medically supported, valid claim for bipolar disorder could initially be denied. SSA disability denials and approvals are based primarily on medical records as well as evidence of symptoms and psychological abnormalities that demonstrate your ability to work. Aside from complete medical records that fully document your bipolar disorder, the following can be helpful:
- Documentation from your doctor and/or therapist that details how the effects of your bipolar disorder persist, despite treatments and other efforts to manage the condition
- Letters from family members or close friends that detail how your bipolar condition affects your daily life
- Letters from current and/or former employers detailing how your bipolar disorder impacts or impacted your job performance
It is imperative that you obtain proper medical treatment for your bipolar disorder and that you follow the treatment plan outlined by your doctor(s). An established record of mental health treatment will significantly improve your case for disability.
Getting Help with Your Bipolar Disorder and Disability Benefits from Carmichael Law Group
It is important that you have thorough medical records documenting your diagnosis of bipolar disorder. It is equally important that you have a strong legal advocate by your side as you seek SS disability benefits. The attorneys at Carmichael Law Group have helped hundreds of people just like you—those who qualify for and deserve disability benefits but may have been unable to secure them. We help clients nationwide, it doesn’t matter where you live. We can help you provide the exact documentation the SSA is looking for and will use our knowledge, skills, and resources for your benefit. The attorneys at Carmichael Law Group are persistent and dedicated when helping you obtain the disability benefits you need and are entitled to receive. Contact Carmichael Law Group, LLC today.