Mental illness accounts in part for 45 percent of successful Social Security Disability claims. This statistic may encourage you if you are considering seeking disability benefits. However, you should be aware that it is increasingly difficult for those with mental health issues to gain approval for their applications.
While the Social Security Administration classifies mental illnesses, including affective disorders like bipolar disorder, as disabilities, demonstrating eligibility for benefits due to your mental health is challenging.
How does your illness affect your ability to work?
Affective disorders include prolonged mood disturbances, either manic or depressive. These disturbances likely make it difficult for you to maintain stability in many areas of your life, including employment. If your bipolar disorder has prevented you from obtaining and sustaining meaningful employment for two years of more and doctors are treating your symptoms with medication and psychosocial therapy, you may be eligible for SSD.
SSD judges will be looking for documentation that your symptoms represent the manic and depressive elements of bipolar disorder and that the episodes of these symptoms occur periodically throughout your medical history. As a result, you suffer from at least two of these negative consequences:
- The symptoms allow you minimal ability to perform normal activities.
- You have difficulty functioning among other people.
- You cannot concentrate or keep up with others doing similar activities.
- You suffer from extended and frequent episodes during which you are unable to cope with normal stress, or you relapse into past symptoms.
You may also be unable to function without intense support, such as a therapeutic living facility. In some cases, those suffering from bipolar disorder are unable to work because the normal demands of workplace duties create an overload of mental stress.
Getting the help you need
Your medical and psychiatric team will play an important role in your efforts to obtain SSD benefits. Unfortunately, the SSA is not generous when it comes to approving benefits for mental illness. Therefore, the copious and detailed documentation provided by your doctors and therapists will benefit your cause greatly.
In addition, you will find the assistance of an attorney to prove valuable. The rules related to mental illness and Social Security benefits are complicated. A Tennessee attorney who has experience helping those with mental health issues will be an important advocate.