You may have heard that the Social Security Administration offers benefits for patients who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and clinical depression. But what if your mental illness manifests itself in a different way: making you feel down for weeks, but feel elated for months after?

Social Security Disability Requirements for Bipolar Disorders

Social Security allows benefits for patients suffering from this type of mood affective disorder, commonly known as manic depression or bipolar disorder. Many sufferers of bipolar disorder are actually diagnosed with clinical depression, but have symptoms of depression and mania; the person’s mood will typically be maniacally high or dangerously low, instead of falling in between.

In order to qualify for Social Security disability, people with bipolar disorder will have to show strong evidence of:

  • Depression. Patients must describe their symptoms when their low mood takes over, such as weight loss, loss of interest in usual activities, inability to sleep, lack of energy, suicidal thoughts, paranoia or hallucinations, difficulty concentrating, or lack of general self-worth.
  • Mania. Patients must also describe what happens during episodes of mania, including inflated self-esteem, talkativeness, hyperactivity, tendency to go “off track” when speaking, change in sleep patterns, attention deficits, delusions, increases in risky behavior, involvement in activities that cause physical pain.
  • History. Social Security must examine your medical history to ensure that you are experiencing the full spectrum of highs and lows required of bipolar syndrome sufferers. In most cases, patients must show that they have been living with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, including constant treatment via medication or therapy, for two years. Patients who cannot function outside of a highly supportive living environment may only need to show one year of treatment.

The most important thing to remember when applying for benefits is that you should receive payments if your condition interrupts your ability to work, interact with other people, and function normally. If you have difficulty concentrating, attending woriking on a consistent basis, talking to others, bathing, completing tasks on time, or sleeping, your ability to earn a living will likely be affected. For help with your claim, click the link on this page to contact the attorneys at Cuddigan Law today.


Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska
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