Applying For Social Security Disability Benefits With Bipolar Disorder

Article by: Ram Meyyappan

If you are suffering from severe Bipolar disorder, it can be difficult to maintain full-time employment. The mood swings and the effects from the medications that you may be taking can make it impossible to get out of bed on some days. The resulting lack of income can wreak financial havoc on a family. Fortunately, in some cases, Social Security Disability benefits are available to help.

The Social Security Blue Book

When you apply for Social Security Disability benefits, the SSA will compare your condition to a list of conditions known as the Social Security Blue Book. This Blue Book contains a listing of all of the conditions that could possibly qualify an individual for Social Security Disability benefits along with the criteria that must be met along with each condition. Bipolar disorder is covered under Section 12.04 of the Blue Book, which covers affective disorders.

According to Section 12.04 of the Blue Book, you can qualify for Social Security Disability benefits with bipolar disorder if you can prove that:
You suffer from a disturbance of mood, accompanied by a full or partial manic or depressive syndrome; and

  • You have medically documented persistence, either continuous or intermittent, of bipolar syndrome with a history of episodic periods manifested by the full symptomatic picture of both manic and depressive syndromes (and currently characterized by either or both syndromes); and
  • You suffer marked restriction of activities of daily living; or
  • You suffer marked difficulties in maintaining social functioning; or
  • You suffer marked difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace; or
  • You suffer from repeated episodes of decompensation, each of extended duration; or
  • You can furnish a medically documented history of a chronic affective disorder of at least 2 years’ duration that has caused more than a minimal limitation of ability to do basic work activities, with symptoms or signs currently attenuated by medication or psychosocial support.

For more information on applying for disability with bipolar disorder, please visit:

Technical Eligibility Criteria
In addition to meeting the above-mentioned Blue Book criteria, you must also meet the SSA’s technical criteria for either the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program or the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. Each program has its own technical requirements.

In order to qualify for SSDI benefits, you must have earned enough work credits through your past work history. If you are over age 31, you must have worked five of the past 10 years in order to qualify. If you are under age 31, you must have worked half the time since turning age 21 to have enough work credits. For example, if you are age 27, you must have worked three of the past six years to have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI benefits. If you do not have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI, you may be able to qualify for SSI benefits.

SSI is a needs-based program for low-income individuals and families. In order to qualify your household income cannot exceed $710 per month as an individual or $1,060 per month as a couple. You must also not have more than $2,000 in household assets as an individual or $3,000 in household assets as a couple.

Completing the Application Process

You can apply for SSDI and SSI benefits online ( or in person at your local Social Security office. When you apply, you will be asked to fill out a number of disability forms as well as attend an interview. You should submit all of your medical evidence during the application process. It will take approximately three to six months from the date of your application to receive a decision regarding your Social Security Disability claim.

Don’t be discouraged if your application is denied. Almost 2/3 of applications are initially denied. There is an extensive appeals process through which you can go through in order to obtain the benefits you need. You should however strongly consider hiring a disability attorney or advocate if your application is denied.

Article by Ram Meyyappan
Social Security Disability Help

Also, please do check out The Consumer’s Guide to Qualifying for Social Security Disability Programs . This website will help break down the requirements and analysis of your condition for SSI or SSD.



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  1. You can’t have all yer loose screws &
    bolts in one basket nowadays or you will get the shaft!!!!;(

  2. Any thoughts on a return to p/t work after three years of soc sec/disability? Seems like there’s a lot of information and maybe too much information. Thank you

  3. I can not even begin to tell you what I’ve been through with SSI….I’m on my 2nd claim, my 1st kept being denied saying not enough medical evidence. Now, on my 2nd claim in it almost 2 1/2 yrs, my attorney had to finally file a Federal Lawsuit and SSI for my benefits. The Medical stuff with my Bipolar with Manic depressive constant symptoms, Adult deficit disorder, and Panic with Agoraphobia seems to not be enough to qualify ??? and they keep trying to not admit the 2 times I was in the Hospital than transferred to a Mental/Addiction Crisis Center twice, from 2 attempted Suicides! DO I NEED TO DIE to get my benefits? I won’t need them then??? The whole system needs to be revamped! I have worked full time since 16 1/2….up until my first Bipolar episode, and attempted suicide as I was went undiagnosed for years until 2002, then another break down and suicide in 2006, and back to the Hospital and Crisis center again. My conditions medically are to the SSI guidelines, and they still are trying to fight my attrny. So…..will see what happens with the Federal Lawsuit….JUST FRUSTRATING….. *Catherine*

    • I’m so sorry to hear what you have been through with trying to get benefits.. the process is truly rigorous and I agree that they need to revamp their entire system. It’s chaotic and almost impossible. Please hang in there and keep at it. From my experience, having an attorney represent you is a huge help! It worked after two years..

    • That’s so Fucked-UP!!! Maybe the CEO’S are afraid it might cut into there 6 figure

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  5. You and me both sister. I’m 56 and tired.

  6. This would be great if they ACTUALLY determined your eligibility based on the blue book… I just got denied SSI benefits… I was told BY A SS REPRESENTATIVE on the phone that they DON’T USE THE BLUE BOOK. So, why the **** would you even put it up??? I hate them so much. Typical government crooks. They wrote my disability off as ‘occasional anxiety and depression’, when in reality, I have CRIPPLING depression and anxiety that is CONSTANT, agoraphobic tendencies, intense social anxiety (hence why I can’t work), and PANIC DISORDER. When I DID force myself to work when I SHOULD have been in the hospital.. I was having several panic attacks per day. I hate them.

    • So sorry I know your pain GBY;(

      • Well I’ve had high blood pressure for 20 years. But in 2012 I had a stroke, this year I had a slight heart attack. My blood pressure stays at 195/100 every day. I’ve been hospitalized over 30 times. I have heart disease. And diagnosed with Chronic Hypertension and Chronic high blood pressure. You right this is buearacy at its best. My PCP and the hospital say I’m probed to strokes and heart attack. So they want us dead and gone. That means our money back in their pockets.

  7. Pingback: Applying For Social Security Disability Benefits With Bipolar Disorder « The Inner Limits

  8. Hi! Thank you for sharing this information. I’ve also been struggling with the same issues. Knowing that most claims are denied gives me hope to appeal.

  9. Thank you hun I have been dealing with this for the past 18 months I posted the diagnosis on my blog. I fit into just about every category on here wonder why so many issues….. but that you I will be calling again tomorrow to find out whats going on again lol

  10. Thanks for that info. I was recently approved for SSI (on my first try, SO greatful) but I was really hoping for SSDI. I think I need to call them, because the pamphlet says I am not eligible for SSDI for 24 months. Hmm… I def think having someone versed in SSI apps is a good choice. Thanks again for the info 🙂

    • Congrats! That is great! I would definitely give them a call and see what they can do about the SSDI. 🙂

    • What do you have? I have bipolar 2 , depression, severe anxiety and i could go on and on.I dont get out of bed and it is very hard to function daily. My job history is awful, I went on line and applied in June. Got the paperwork and sent it back in August. Got a letter in September denying me benefits. Filled out appeal paperwork and sent it back. Still havent head anything, They said they had received everything on Oct 1. Im still waiting and it sucks. I have no money and now i am destitute… Ive lost my car, my parents, and its been hell. I have gotten EAEDC from welfare which is only 120 every two weeks. It doesn’t pay rent so I have had to stay with a friend. He has been very understanding, But with all of the medications having to pay for food etc cos food stamps dont give me much is tuff. Half the time i dont feel like eating anyway, So from your opinions people, should i hear from the ssa office soon, i did apply for ssdi as well and i call them every day. Please help me out and give me some feedback thank you

      • I’m sorry to hear you are struggling so much… If you can find a lawyer to help with the process, i’ve heard it helps a lot. The disabilities lawyers don’t get paid unless you get benefits, so they are selective about who they take on.
        I hope you can get approved soon.

  11. Great information, Kait. One thing that I may add. It’s rare to meet someone who was approved for the benefits the first time they apply. Most only get the benefits on the 2nd try, which is through the appeals process.

    I chose a therapist who specializes in this area and was guaranteed that I would get my benefits the first time based on how he submitted the information. He was correct, I not only got in, but they called to inform me that in addition to being approved they were going to expedite my application.

    The moral: Make sure you have a doctor who is very experienced in the application process.

    • Very, very true! I think it’s important to have a psychiatrist or doctor who can vouch for you and help out. It truly does help! Also, getting a lawyer helps a great deal too.

  12. Thank you so much for sharing this information! I’m going to look into major depressive disorder and other mental and mood disorders. Thanks!

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