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Bipolar Disorder and SSDI benefits

The mental condition known as bipolar disorder - formerly called manic depression - afflicts many people in Missouri and elsewhere. The symptoms - alternating moods of severe depression and euphoria - can often be controlled with medication, but severe cases do not always respond to drugs. If the disorder is not effectively controlled, it can severely interfere with a person's relationships and ability to work. In this post, we will review the aspects of bipolar disorder that may allow a person to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits.

The Social Security Administration categorizes bipolar disorder as an affective disorder characterized by "a disturbance of mood accompanied by a full or partial manic or depressive syndrome." The condition must affect the person's "whole psychic life" and involve either elation or depression. The SSA regulations define the required level of intensity for the disorder. It must be medically documented as persistent, either continuously or intermittently, and must involve a depressive syndrome, a manic syndrome, or a bipolar history including both manic and depressive episodes.

The disorder must cause marked restriction in the activities of daily living or difficulties in social functioning or maintaining concentration or persistence. Alternatively, the disorder will qualify as disabling if the applicant has a documented history of affective disorder for at least two years. In essence, the disorder must be documented by a qualified medical professional and must interfere with a person's ability to maintain a normal social and personal life.

Bipolar disorder, like almost all mental illnesses, cannot be verified by an objective test or procedure, such as a blood draw, x-ray or CT scan. Therefore, proving the existence of the condition and its disabling effects can be very difficult. Anyone considering applying for SSD benefits based on bipolar disorder may wish to consult a lawyer who handles disability claims.

Source: Social Security Administration, "Disability Evaluation Under Social Security - 12.04 - Affective disorders," accessed on Sep. 24, 2016

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