How long does it take to get SSI Disability Benefits?

"Hi, I am writing to you, because I have filed an application for SSI, due to being diagnosed with BPD. Reading about BPD, though it may sound strange coming frommyself in saying so. Though, even I can acknowledge, and from what my therapist says, is severe emotional dysregulation. BPD, I have read causes severe handicaps in many areas of life, because being able to appropriately relate, and balance yourself (emotions, reactions to stress/stressful situations), especially so in holding down a job, can and has caused me some definate problems. I should say, to be able to "go with the flow & mesh", which is a must in holding down lengthy employment. These are issues, which my therapist has explained to me, which I can acknowledge to be true.

I applied for SSI, in January 2010, and was denied after a 3rd or 4th suicide attempt, and finally diagnosed with BPD. Since that time, I have also had a court hearing and was denied, on the basis that I could always go about the rest of my life working as a dishwasher. This may be true, but one of the main characteristics of BPD, is frequent loss of employment, whether this be washing dishes, or what have you.

As of now, I live at home. I am 29. I left home early, without ever saving for a car, to get away from my step-father's alcoholism and behavior. I lived most of this time, from the ages of, I'd say, 17-24 with a boyfriend. After seperating from him, I was back to nothing. I had just gotten a degree and licence (career college). But, as my mother worked full-time, I had no way to get to a job.

Anyhow, not having a car, or way to get to a job now is a huge, disabling issue for me. I felt that with SSI, I could at least have my own transportation to try and work. Now, I am at the point, I am on my second attorney. And, yes, we are very much below the poverty line. As my mother works, as a hairdresser (full-time), her husband, nor I work, and she is taking care of her mother-in-law.

I spoke (on the phone) with a woman who represents my current attorney. I had to file all over again, and the "date disability began" was wrong. I left a message informing them of this, and was told by the lady, for me to get SSI could take up to 10 yrs.

I do not have a life-time to wait to get help, to better myself. And, I know that BPD is listed in the SSI blue-book as a disabling condition. Not to mention, SSI is for those persons considered disabled, and under the poverty line.

My question is this..... To be told, I may have to wait 10 yrs., is this normal? Because, I really don't have another 10 yrs. to wait. I am in an unstable environment, and really want to get out again, and better myself, before it is too late. Also, is there anything I can do at all to speed up this process, after having to file again?.... And, if so, I really cannot understand why I am being denied? If anyone honestly knew my situation and could empathize, they would understand. Any helpful tips?


Unfortunately, there is very little you can do but file the SSI application if you want to 'eventually' be approved for SSI disability benefits. Your attorney or representative cannot guarantee when or even if you will be approved for disability benefits.

And, while bipolar disorder is listed in the blue book as a disabling condition, it does not guarantee you will be approved for disability benefits on the basis of a diagnosis. Social Security Disability determinations are based upon current as well as past medical evidence. If your bipolar disorder has improved due to proper treatment and you have been able to complete a degree and become licensed, it may indicate that the severity of your condition does not meet the requirements of the Social Security Disability program.

I understand that bipolar disorder causes all kinds of limitations that would prevent steady work activity, and it may do so in your case as well. Lack of transportation is disabling when it comes to maintaining employment, however it not a medical disability that can be considered for Social Security Disability determinations.

Social Security Disability guidelines require you to have a severe medical condition that prevents you from engaging in substantial work activity. If the evidence in your case shows that you are unable to work because of your bipolar disorder, you may be approved much sooner than the 'ten year' arbitrary time frame the woman at your attorney's office told you. I understand why she could not commit to any certain amount of time because there is no way she or your attorney could know how long it will take for you to get SSI disability benefits.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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