Can You Receive Disability for Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder, previously known as manic depression, is a mental health condition that affects a person’s mood, energy, activity level, and ability to function. This disorder is characterized by extreme mood swings that range from high (mania or hypomania) to low (depression). Bipolar disorder can have a significant impact on the person’s daily functioning, making it difficult for them to work or perform daily tasks, and may require medical treatment and support. If you are living with bipolar disorder and are unable to work, you may be eligible for disability benefits. This article delves into the details of the eligibility criteria for disability benefits for bipolar disorder.

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that affects a person’s mood, energy levels, and daily functioning. The condition is characterized by episodes of mania or hypomania (highs) and depression (lows).

What Are the Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?

The symptoms of bipolar disorder vary from person to person and depend on the type and severity of the mood episode. The symptoms of mania or hypomania may include:

  • Excessive happiness, excitement, or energy
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Rapid speech or racing thoughts
  • Increased goal-directed activity
  • Impulsivity or reckless behavior

The symptoms of depression in bipolar disorder may include:

  • Persistent sadness or hopelessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feeling restless or slowed down
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

How Is Bipolar Disorder Diagnosed?

A diagnosis of bipolar disorder is usually made based on an evaluation by a mental health professional. The healthcare provider will assess your symptoms, medical history and any family history of mental health issues. This evaluation may include a psychological evaluation, medical tests, such as blood tests, and a psychiatric evaluation.

Can You Get Disability for Bipolar Disorder?

If bipolar disorder is significantly impacting your ability to work or perform daily tasks, you may be eligible for disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides disability benefits to those who are unable to work due to a severe medical condition, including mental health conditions like bipolar disorder.

What Are the Eligibility Criteria for Disability Benefits with Bipolar Disorder?

To be eligible for disability benefits based on bipolar disorder, first, you must meet the general eligibility requirements for Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. The eligibility criteria depends on the type of benefit you are seeking.

  • SSD benefits are available to disabled persons who have worked and earned enough work credits to be eligible for disability benefits.
  • SSI benefits are available to disabled persons who have limited income and resources.

In addition to the general eligibility requirements, the SSA evaluates bipolar disorder based on the following criteria:

  • Does bipolar disorder significantly impair your ability to work?
  • Do you have a severe medical impairment that meets or equals the criteria set out in the SSA’s Listing of Impairments?
  • If your conditions do not meet the Listings, do they prevent you from performing basic job tasks necessary to hold employment?
  • Do you have work-related limitations caused by your bipolar disorder?

What Medical Evidence Do You Need to Prove Eligibility for Disability Benefits?

If you are applying for disability benefits with bipolar disorder, you must provide extensive medical evidence to support your claim. The medical evidence required includes but is not limited to:

  • Medical history records
  • Mental status exams conducted by a licensed psychiatrist
  • CT scans and MRI data
  • Hospitalization records
  • Records detailing the mood episodes experienced
  • Medical bills indicating treatment and medications taken
  • Statements from treating doctors indicating the severity of the condition
  • A Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) form

What Are the Chances of Success for a Disability Claim Based on Bipolar Disorder?

The chances of success for a disability claim based on bipolar disorder depend on various factors, including the severity of symptoms, duration of the condition, and medical evidence provided. However, getting a favorable SSD or SSI decision for bipolar disorder can be challenging, as the SSA demands extensive medical evidence to back your claims. You may want to consider hiring an attorney specializing in SSD or SSI law to increase your chances of success.


Living with bipolar disorder can be challenging, and the condition can significantly impact your ability to work, making you eligible for disability benefits. However, the application process can be difficult, and you will need to provide extensive medical evidence to back up your claims. If you have any questions about the eligibility criteria or the application process, it may be helpful to seek guidance from an experienced disability attorney.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q: Can you get disability for bipolar disorder if you work part-time?
  • A: Yes, you may be eligible for disability benefits if you work part-time but only if the income earned does not exceed the limits set by the SSA for income and work credits.
  • Q: Is bipolar disorder a qualifying disability for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)?
  • A: Yes, bipolar disorder is a qualifying disability for SSDI if it significantly impairs the individual’s ability to work.
  • Q: How long does it take to receive disability benefits for bipolar disorder?
  • A: The processing time for disability claims for bipolar disorder varies depending on individual factors such as medical evidence and administrative factors such as backlog of cases. It can take anywhere from a few months to a couple of years to receive disability benefits.
  • Q: Can you work while receiving disability benefits with bipolar disorder?
  • A: Yes, you may work part-time or full-time while receiving disability benefits, provided that you adhere to the SSA’s rules for earnings limits.
  • Q: Can children with bipolar disorder get disability benefits?
  • A: Yes, children with bipolar disorder may be eligible for disability benefits if their condition significantly impairs their ability to function day-to-day or attend school.


1. Social Security Administration. (n.d.). Disabilities. Retrieved from

2. Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (n.d.). Bipolar Disorder. Retrieved from

3. National Institute of Mental Health. (n.d.). Bipolar Disorder. Retrieved from

4. Disability Benefits Help. (n.d.). Bipolar Disability. Retrieved from

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