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  • Christopher Le

Can I get Social Security Disability if I have Bipolar disorder ?

When thinking about Social Security Disability benefits, many people first consider physical disabilities. But we can forget about the mental impairments. Many Americans have mental health conditions that limit their ability to work — such as bipolar disorder. The majority of people with this condition report that they are seriously disabled.

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that is characterized by random shifts in mood, energy and activity. People diagnosed with bipolar disorder often have varying abilities to carry out daily activities. Bipolar disorder involves changes in mood, from manic periods to more depressed, sad times.

There are 4 types of bipolar disorder:

  1. Bipolar I Disorder: this type includes manic episodes that last for at least seven (7) days or that are so severe that they require hospitalization. Depressive episodes usually last for at least two (2) weeks.

  2. Bipolar II Disorder: this type has both depressive and manic episodes, but with less extreme manic periods.

  3. Cyclothymic Disorder: also known as cyclothymia, this type involves numerous periods of hypomanic symptoms and depressive symptoms for at least two (2) years.

  4. Other Specified and Unspecified Bipolar and Related Disorders: this type involves bipolar symptoms that do not meet the criteria for one of the other diagnoses.

Bipolar disorder affects people in various ways. Although medication and therapy can help to manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder, it normally doesnt resolve all symptoms.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) maintains a listing of impairments that includes mental health diagnosis that are considered severe enough to prevent an individual from working. Bipolar disorder is listed as one of the impairments in thus SSA listing. To qualify for SSDI benefits for bipolar, you must submit the following evidence:

  1. Medical documentation of a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, characterized by at least three (3) of the following symptoms:

  2. Pressured speech, Flight of ideas, Inflated self-esteem, Decreased need for sleep, Distractibility, Involvement in activities that have a high probability of painful consequences that are not recognized or Increase in goal-directed activity or psychomotor agitation;


  1. Extreme limitation of one, or marked limitation of two, of the following areas of mental functioning:

  2. Understanding, remembering or applying information;

  3. Interacting with others;

  4. Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace;

  5. Adapting or managing oneself.


  1. The mental disorder is “serious and persistent,” with a documented history of the existence of the disorder over a period of at least two (2) years, with documentation of both:

  2. Medical treatment, mental health therapy, psychosocial support(s), or a highly structured setting(s) that is ongoing and that diminishes the symptoms and signs of the mental disorder; AND

  3. Marginal adjustment, which means minimal capacity to adapt to changes in the environment or to demands that are not already part of daily life.

To receive social security disability benefits for bipolar, an applicant must provide significant documentation of their diagnosis, treatment history, and how their illness impacts their daily life and activities of daily living. If you meet the criteria for bipolar disorder, please give us a call at 210-885-3408 and our disability attorney can help you file for disability benefits.

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