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Bipolar disorder: what do I need to prove in an SSD application?

Formerly known as Manic Depressive Disorder, Bipolar Disorder is a mental illness that is actually a combination of several mood disorders. Those who suffer from this condition experience a wide range of often extreme emotions from anxiety to anger to hopelessness. It also causes physical impairments such as fatigue or chronic pain. 

There is no doubt that a disorder like this can affect your ability to hold down a job and earn a consistent living. Extreme mood swings or a lack of motivation are not always considered optimal qualities in the eyes of an employer. Although Bipolar Disorder is on the Social Security Disability listings, a diagnosis alone does not automatically make you eligible for benefits. 

An individual who suffers from this condition can qualify by establishing a history of either symptomatic manic episodes or depressive syndromes. The individual may also show that he or she has some combination of both. In addition, the condition must impose two out of three listed restrictions in their lives, including: 

  • Limiting the individual's daily activity in such a way as to be considered severe
  • Making them unable to interact with peers in what would be considered normal behavior
  • Lasting and recurring episodes of decompensation or periods of mental deterioration

For those who cannot meet this standard, they are not out of options. There are other ways in which the condition may qualify for SSD benefits. The largest hurdle for applicants is establishing the existence or severity of a disability through proper and sufficient medical documentation. It is at this step that having a SSD attorney who not only understands the process but who knows how to build a compelling case can make all the difference.

Source: Social Security Disability Help, "Bipolar Disorder and Social Security Disability," Accessed Oct. 22, 2014

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