Bipolar disorder is severely disabling for some who suffer from it, but is it severe enough to qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits? The answer depends upon a number of factors.

Does bipolar prevent you from performing your job duties?

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depressive syndrome, is marked by extreme mood swings from high euphoria to deep depression. Many who suffer from bipolar endure depression, anxiety, anger, fatigue and extreme irritability at the lowest end of the cycle, and uncontrollably manic episodes at the top end.

Managing these cycles, which are largely unpredictable, makes it difficult to hold steady employment. Most jobs require people to interact with others to some extent. For those who suffer from bipolar disorder, daily interactions that others take for granted may be extremely difficult, if not impossible. Finding the energy and motivation to work while at the low end of the depressive episode is also very difficult for some.

Does it meet the SSA’s definition of disabled?

In assessing SSD claims for bipolar disorder, the Social Security Administration (SSA) takes into account how the disorder affects a claimant’s ability to work or adjust to other job duties. For a claimant to meet the SSA’s definition of disabled, bipolar must manifest in at least two of the following ways:

  • Severely limit daily activity
  • Prohibit normal interaction with other people
  • Recur with episodes of decompensation (inability to be aided by medical treatment)

If you suffer from bipolar disorder and are seeking SSD benefits, an experienced disability lawyer can help you understand if you qualify for benefits.