Bipolar disorder, or manic depression, can be extremely disruptive and can create major difficulties in a person's life. With bipolar disorder, a person may experience depression one moment, and in the next moment feel elated. These periods of elation are known as mania. In the worst cases of bipolar disorder, a person can feel depressed and manic at the same time. Omaha disability attorney explains for people with severe bipolar disorder, it can be very hard to find and keep a job. The depressive episode of bipolar disorder can make it hard for you to get to work. The manic episodes may causes problems while you are at work.

Social Security evaluates bipolar disorder under mental impairment listing 12.04, depressive, bipolar and related disorders. Those who suffer from bipolar disorder must satisfy the criteria under paragraphs “A” and “B,” or “A” and “C”:

  1. Medical documentation of the requirements of paragraph 1 or 2:
    1. Depressive disorder, characterized by five or more of the following:
      1. Depressed mood
      2. Diminished interest in almost all activities
      3. Appetite disturbance with change in weight
      4. Sleep disturbance
      5. Observable psychomotor agitation or retardation
      6. Decreased energy
      7. Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
      8. Difficulty concentrating or thinking
      9. Thoughts of death or suicide
    2. Bipolar disorder, characterized by three or more of the following:
      1. Pressured speech
      2. Flight of ideas
      3. Inflated self-esteem
      4. Decreased need for sleep
      5. Distractibility
      6. Involvement in activities that have a high probability of painful consequences that are not recognized
      7. 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:
    1. Understand, remember, or apply information
    2. Interact with others
    3. Concentrate, persist, or maintain pace
    4. Adapt or manage oneself


  1. Your mental disorder in this listing category is “serious and persistent”; that is, you have a medically documented history of the existence of the disorder over a period of at least 2 years, and there is evidence of both:
    1. 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 your mental disorder
    2. Marginal adjustment—that is, you have minimal capacity to adapt to changes in your environment or to demands that are not already part of your daily life

If your bipolar disorder is preventing you from working, you may be eligible for disability benefits. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are programs that are intended to help people with mental and physical disorders that prevent them from working.

Some people with mental conditions, such as bipolar disorder, believe that it is not worth the effort to apply for disability benefits. It is certainly true that the Social Security Administration (SSA) will require evidence before it approves a claim for benefits. It is also true that the SSA denies a majority of claims, at least in the initial stages. But do not let this discourage you. A majority of claims involving mental illness that are approved, are approved at the hearing level. Our law firm can help you compile your medical records in order to demonstrate why you meet the standards set out by the SSA. We will try to obtain reports from your medical provider regarding your functional limitations. Our Omaha disability attorney helps individuals living with bipolar disorder and are unable to work navigate the SSDI process. . If you can no longer work, ask for a copy of our pamphlet, Give Yourself the Best Chance of Winning Your Social Security Disability Case. For a free evaluation, call (402) 933-5405, or e-mail [email protected].

Timothy J. Cuddigan (Founder - Retired)
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Omaha Social Security and Veterans Disability Lawyer With Over 40 Years Experience