Bipolar disorder, marked by extreme highs and lows in mood, can be very difficult to live with. Maintaining a job while navigating manic episodes and depressive spells is challenging, particularly when therapy and medication are unsuccessful at managing bipolar symptoms.
Since bipolar disorder can profoundly impact every area of your life, many wonder if it qualifies for SSD benefits. There are a lot of factors to consider, and it’s important to talk about the unique aspects of your case with a disability attorney.
At Baker & Baker, we focus on helping SSDI and SSI applicants get the benefits they deserve. Ready to talk about your SSDI application and how we can help? Call us at 850-433-0888 to set up a consultation now.
Bipolar Disorder in the Blue Book
For some, SSDI benefits approval will come from the Blue Book. Although its proper name is the Listing of Impairments, it is far more widely known as the Blue Book. Under heading 12.04 in the Blue Book, you’ll find the qualifications for depressive, bipolar, and related disorders.
Those who wish to qualify for benefits because of bipolar disorder must have at least three of the following:
- Pressured speech
- Rapid flow of ideas
- Exaggerated self-esteem
- Limited need for sleep
- Easily distracted
- Engaging in activities that are likely to cause harm to oneself, without recognizing the risk
- Enhanced goal-directed activity or physical agitation
In addition to these three, the applicant must have marked limitation of two of the following or extreme limitation of one of the following:
- Understanding, remembering, or applying information
- Interacting with other people
- Concentrating, persisting in a task or continuing at an appropriate pace
- Managing oneself
If someone is relatively stable, they may still qualify for disability payments if they are stable due to intensive ongoing treatment and a general inability to adjust to changes in their routine or daily life. This indicates that the individual does have a severe enough disability that introducing the demands of work into their life would cause a significant backslide.
Qualifying via RFC
Those who are unable to meet the qualifications of the Blue Book listing may still qualify by undergoing an RFC assessment. Your residual functional capacity assessment looks at your ability to carry out work tasks, both in your field and in other fields. It’s meant to assess your physical and mental limitations so that the SSA can determine if you are able to work in your previous field or another field. If your limitations are such that there’s no real way for you to work, you may then be approved for SSDI benefits.
Documenting Bipolar Disorder
As you work on your application for SSDI benefits, the majority of your time should be spent on documentation of your disability. Remember that you are approaching your application from a different viewpoint than the SSA is. You have an inner view of your struggles and limitations, and you know how deeply your diagnosis impacts your life. The SSA does not have that background knowledge, so it’s up to you to demonstrate it to them.
You’ll want to include all of the medical documentation you have available to you, including assessments from psychiatrists and therapists, reports from other care providers if you’ve ever been injured during a manic episode, and proof of time spent away from work due to your bipolar disorder. If you have ever been hospitalized or involuntarily admitted to a mental health facility during a depressive spell, that’s also useful information to include.
If you have had bipolar disorder for a long time, you have likely spent a lot of time figuring out what does and does not work for you. Documentation of different therapies, including those that were ineffective, can be excellent evidence for the SSA.
Reach Out to Baker & Baker Today
Working with an attorney as you apply for SSDI benefits can help you submit the strongest application you possibly can. Let us guide you through this process. Whether you are just starting your application or you are getting ready to go through the appeal process, we’re ready to advocate for you. Call Baker & Baker at 850-433-0888 or get in touch with us online to set up a consultation.