Disability Determination for Bipolar Disorder
Here are some tips on how to get Social Security disability benefits for bipolar disorder.
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Bipolar disorder is a long-term disruptive psychiatric condition that causes an individual to have intense mood swings. A person with bipolar can abruptly go from a state of depression to a state of euphoria or mania. This can make it difficult for a person with bipolar disorder to maintain employment, even with consistent medical treatment.
Proving Bipolar Disorder
In order to prove that you have bipolar disorder, you should get a statement from a qualified doctor or psychiatrist about your condition. A doctor’s report is most influential if it is a doctor who has known you and been treating you for a while.
(If your doctor is less that helpful, see Filing for Disability Without a Doctor's Support or Approval)
In addition to a doctor’s report, it's helpful to provide some or all of the following documentation:
- letters from employers and former employers explaining how your disorder affected your job performance
- notes from friends and relatives explaining how your disorder affects your daily life, and
- letters from therapists explaining that the effects of bipolar continue despite treatment and your attempt to manage your disorder.
What You Need to Prove
Generally, you will qualify for benefits if you have received an air-tight diagnosis of bipolar disorder and have problems in two of the four main areas of functioning. Specifically, you, and your lawyer, will need to prove that you have marked deficits in at least two of the following areas.
- Daily living skills: getting dressed and cleaning and grooming yourself independently without reminders or help from others.
- Social functioning: acting and speaking appropriately in social and employment situations.
- Concentration: completing tasks in a timely manner.
- Episodes of decomposition: keeping your temper in check and remaining engaged in a situation.
Denials and Appeals
If your disability claim is denied, as many initially are, then you should file an appeal. Your appeal should clearly state why you want the claim reconsidered and why you should be considered disabled. A disability lawyer can represent you at a hearing if your first level of appeal (called a reconsideration) is denied. Before your hearing, the lawyer will develop the evidence to properly support your case, requesting information from your doctor that will show your limitations.