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Social Security Disability Definitions

Social Security Disability and SSI Overview

The Requirements for Disability

Social Security Disability and SSI Applications

Tips and Advice for Disability Claims

How long does Disability take?

Common Mistakes after Receiving a Disability Denial

Social Security Disability and SSI Denials

Social Security Disability and SSI Appeals

Social Security Mental Disability Benefits

Disability Benefits offered through Social Security

Benefits through SSI disability

Disability Benefits for Children

Disability Qualifications and How to Qualify

Social Security Disability and Working

Winning your Disability Benefits

Social Security Disability Back Pay Benefits

Social Security Disability SSI Awards and Award Notices

Disability Lawyers and Hiring an Attorney

Social Security Disability SSI List of Conditions

What is considered a Disabling condition by Social Security?

Social Security Disability SSI and Medical Evidence

Filing for Disability Benefits

Eligibility for Disability Benefits

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Facts about Bipolar Disorder and Filing for Disability

1) Bipolar disorder is a mental illness of various mood disorders, ranging from mild and severe depression, to mild and severe mania usually, but not always, separated by periods of ‘normal’ mood.

2) Although about one percent of the population has been diagnosed, many health experts think the number of people who have the illness is probably around 6 percent of the population.

3) The number of episodes of bipolar disorder per year can vary greatly from individual to individual, although most people with the mental illness will experience a an episode every three to six months.

4) There is a bipolar spectrum, which describes the range of bipolar episodes and works toward determining different bipolar types, though it is hard to say just how many types of the disorder exist. The spectrum involves Bipolar I, Bipolar II, Cyclothymia, Rapid Cycling, and Bipolar Disorder NOS (Not Otherwise Specified), which is a type of bipolar disorder created to be a ‘catch all’ for the cases of bipolar disorder that simply do not fit into any of the other categories.

5) If there are no periods of ‘normal mood’ in between periods of depression and mania, it is called rapid cycling. Those with rapid cycling experience at least four episodes in a year, but there are also people who will have mood episodes that change within a day or two. Those very fast episodes of bipolar disorder are called ultra-rapid cyling or ultra-ultra rapid cycling.

6) Oftentimes those with bipolar disorder will turn to drugs and alcohol to self medicate without knowing they have the mental illness, which makes diagnosis very challenging.

7) Unfortunately, many people go undiagnosed and do not realize they are experiencing mania in between periods of normal mood and depression. During the mania stage of bipolar disorder, the sufferer may be extremely creative, motivated, sociable, and productive, making them think that they only get depression and are healthy during their manic stage.

8) The cause of bipolar disorder is unknown though studies have shown that it may be genetic, can be biochemical and possibly due to hormonal imbalances, and related to environmental factors such as stress and drug use.

Can you qualify for disability benefits with this condition?

Whether or not you qualify for disability and, as a result, are approved for disability benefits will depend entirely on the information obtained from your medical records. This includes whatever statements may have been obtained from your treating physician (a doctor who has a history of treating your condition and is, therefore, qualified to comment as to your condition and prognosis).

It will also depend on the information obtained from your vocational, or work, history if you are an adult, or academic records if you are a minor-age child. The important thing to keep in mind is that the social security administration does not award benefits based on simply having a condition, but, instead, will base an approval or denial on the extent to which a condition causes functional limitations. Functional limitations can be great enough to make work activity not possible (or, for a child, make it impossible to engage in age-appropriate activities).

Why are so many disability cases lost at the disability application and reconsideration appeal levels?

Speaking as a former Disability Claims Examiner, I can state that there are several reasons:

1) Social Security makes no attempt to obtain a statement from a claimant's treating physician. By contrast, at the hearing level, a claimant and his or her disability attorney will generally obtain and present this type of statement to a judge;

2) Prior to the hearing level, a claimant will not have the opportunity to explain how their condition limits them, nor will their attorney or representative have the opportunity to make a presentation based on the evidence of the case. At the hearing level, of course, this is exactly what happens. And a number of disability representatives will also take such steps even earlier, at the reconsideration appeal level;

3) Disability judges, unlike disability examiners who decides cases at the first two levels of the system, can make independent decisions without being overturned by immediate supervisors--which happens frequently.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria