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Bipolar disorder and SSDI benefits

Some Missouri residents may have experienced bipolar disorder first-hand, either as a patient or as a friend or family of a person with the disorder. The disorder often interferes with a person’s ability to work when the depressive features of the disorder are manifest. Sometimes, even the manic aspects of the disorder can cause a person to quit a job when they feel “high” and able carry on without income. In either situation, the disorder has disabling features that can allow an individual to seek Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) benefits.

The Social Security Administration classifies bipolar disorder as an “affective disorder” characterized by a disturbance of the person’s mood accompanied by either a manic or depressive syndrome. Bipolar syndrome is a disorder with a history of either or both manic and depressive syndromes. The disorder must result in at least two of the following conditions:

  • Marked restriction of activities of daily living
  • Marked difficulties in maintaining social functioning or
  • Marked difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence or pace or
  • Repeated episodes of decompensation (lapsing into either a manic or depressive state) for an extended duration.

Bipolar syndrome may also qualify a person for disability benefits if he or she, over a two-year period, demonstrates more than a minimal limitation of the ability to perform basic work activities, along with repeated episodes of decompensation, only a marginal adjustment such that only minimal change in circumstances may cause decompensation or a current history of one or more years inability to function outside of a highly supportive environment.

Anyone contemplating seeking SSDI benefits for bipolar disorder may wish to consult an attorney who works in the area of SSDI claims. A knowledgeable lawyer can assess the case, help assemble the necessary supporting information and provide advice on seeking an appeal if the claim is denied.

Source: Social Security Administration, “Disability Evaluation Under Social Security, 12.00 Mental Disorders – Adult,” accessed on June 13, 2016


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