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Can You Get SSDI for Bipolar Disorder?

Can You Get SSDI for Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is considered a “qualifying disorder” for SSDI

Can You Get SSDI for Bipolar Disorder?

When thinking about Social Security Disability benefits (such as SSDI), many people first consider physical disabilities. Yet millions of Americans have mental health conditions that limit their ability to work — such as bipolar disorder. Although bipolar disorder is relatively rare, the majority of people with this condition report that they are seriously disabled.

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that is characterized by unusual shifts in mood, energy and activity levels. People who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder often have varying abilities to carry out daily tasks. Bipolar disorder involves clear changes in mood, from manic, highly energized periods to more depressed, sad times.

There are four types of bipolar disorder:

  1. Bipolar I Disorder: this type includes manic episodes that last for at least seven (7) days or that are so severe that they require hospitalization. Depressive episodes usually last for at least two (2) weeks.
  2. Bipolar II Disorder: this type has both depressive and manic episodes, but with less extreme manic periods.
  3. Cyclothymic Disorder: also known as cyclothymia, this type involves numerous periods of hypomanic symptoms and depressive symptoms for at least two (2) years.
  4. Other Specified and Unspecified Bipolar and Related Disorders: this type involves bipolar symptoms that do not meet the criteria for one of the other diagnoses.

Bipolar disorder affects people in different ways. Although medication and psychotherapy can help to control the symptoms of bipolar disorder, it may not completely eliminate them.

As a California disability benefits attorney can explain, the Social Security Administration (SSA) maintains a listing of impairments that includes both medical and mental health conditions that are considered severe enough to prevent an individual from working. Bipolar disorder is listed in the SSA’s listing of impairments.

To qualify for SSDI benefits with bipolar disorder, you must submit the following evidence:

  1. Medical documentation of a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, characterized by at least three of the following symptoms:
  2. Pressured speech;
  3. Flight of ideas;
  4. Inflated self-esteem;
  5. Decreased need for sleep;
  6. Distractibility;
  7. Involvement in activities that have a high probability of painful consequences that are not recognized; or
  8. 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:
  2. Understanding, remembering or applying information;
  3. Interacting with others;
  4. Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace;
  5. Adapting or managing oneself.


  1. The mental disorder is “serious and persistent,” with a documented history of the existence of the disorder over a period of at least two (2) years, with documentation of both:
  2. 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 the mental disorder; AND
  3. Marginal adjustment, which means minimal capacity to adapt to changes in the environment or to demands that are not already part of daily life.

According to a California disability benefits attorney, a person with bipolar disorder can qualify for SSDI benefits because it is included on the SSA’s listing of impairments. However, to receive benefits, an applicant must provide significant documentation of their diagnosis, treatment history, and how their illness impacts their life and ability to work.

If you have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder or another mental health condition and are unable to work as a result, PLBSH can work with you to determine if you may qualify for SSDI. Our team of skilled California disability benefits attorneys have substantial experience in helping individuals put together successful applications for benefits. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, contact our firm today at (800) 435-7542 or info@plbsh.com.

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