Mack burned some bridges, figuratively, before he found out he had bipolar disorder. His behavior during his manic phases alienated friends and employers. When he was depressed, he found himself completely unable to leave his house for any reason, even to go to work. After being diagnosed, Mack started on medication and therapy designed to help him function and support himself. However, when is bipolar disorder a disability that qualifies for disability benefits? Mack could certainly use some financial support.
What Is Bipolar Disorder?
You may have heard this condition called “manic-depressive” illness. The symptoms of bipolar disorder include unusual changes in:
- mood, and
- the ability to handle routine, day-to-day activities.
People with bipolar disorder may have “mood episodes” where they experience:
- unusually strong emotions,
- changes in sleep patterns or an inability to go to sleep,
- unusual behaviors, and
- extreme changes in activity levels.
The family, friends, employers, and co-workers of a person with this disorder may be the first to notice the unusual behavior. A bipolar disorder diagnosis is the first step toward recovery.
How Does the SSA Assess Bipolar Disorder?
As with all medical conditions, the Social Security’s list of impairments plays a role. SSA workers will assess a bipolar person under 12.00 Mental Disorders. Section 12.04 covers depressive, bipolar, and related disorders.
Generally, someone claiming disability based on bipolar disorder must have three or more of the following symptoms:
- Pressured speech,
- Flight of ideas,
- Inflated self-esteem,
- Decreased need for sleep,
- Involvement in activities that have a high probability of painful consequences that are not recognized, or
- Increase in goal-directed activity or psychomotor agitation.
- Extreme limitation or marked limitation of certain areas of mental functioning
- You have a medically documented history of the disorder over at least two years with evidence of specific problems.
Medical history and physician’s reports are essential parts of proving this disorder is disabling.
In Mack’s case, he finally saw a doctor and was thoroughly assessed. At some point, he may recover and be able to support himself. In the meantime, he may qualify for disability benefits like Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to help smooth the way.
A Disability Attorney Can Help Every Step of the Way
For a free consultation with an experienced Social Security attorney, consult with an attorney at The Law Offices of Martin Taller. Call us at 714-385-8100. We assist clients through Southern California from our home office in Anaheim.