Will I Get Disability with Severe Bipolar Disorder

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Q. I have severe Bipolar Disorder and am applying for disabality: I have sever bi polar disorder and it is not ideal for me to work and be around people in fear i may be so upset i will hurt them. i have been to my doctor may times for this and i have an appointment with a phycologist soon to help with my treat ment. i am taking 400mgs of Seroquel currently and it doesnt seem to be working…I applied for disability because bi polar is a disability and i need the help while im trying to be treated and focus on only that…do i have a chance of getting it? will i be okay

A. It can be difficult to get disability but it’s not impossible and people do get it. Generally speaking, it’s commonly acknowledged that most people who apply for disability get denied on their first try. I believe the “official” approximation is that about two-thirds of the people who apply are denied on their first try. Whether or not you will be awarded disability can depend on many factors.

It will depend on how much money or assets you have access to. For instance, if you have little money in your bank account but have an IRA worth over $2.000.00, it is possible (and likely) that you will get denied. It can depend on how much of your life you have spent working. The disability office will take into consideration how many years you put into the work force and if you do not have “enough”, they could deny your application. Please read the official social security disability insurance website to read further about their specific guidelines.

Your doctors will need to document the length and severity of your condition. You should also keep a good record of the medications you take, the number of doctors appointments you have and who with, and the outcomes of those appointments, your symptoms, and so forth. I know of two individuals who both recently applied for disability. One person kept extremely good records of each and every appointment they had with any doctor and frequently updated the disability office on any new developments in this regard. This person was ultimately awarded disability. The other person did not keep a detailed record yet this person had the more severe and chronic mental illness. I cannot say for sure that the person who kept the more detailed records was awarded disability because of their thoroughness with record keeping but it certainly may have helped.

I do not know if you will be awarded disability but I would strongly encourage you to apply. Do not become discouraged if you are denied on your first attempt. If you are denied, do reapply or consider contacting a lawyer to fight on your behalf. The good news about disability lawyers is that they can really help in getting you disability once you are denied with little cost to you. Most lawyers only take a small portion of your award if they are successful at defending your case, and those awards are capped depending on what state you live in. But the bad news is that even with a lawyer (there are exceptions to this) it can take a long while to get your case reconsidered.

It is a true shame and frankly a disgrace that many people who are in need of disability are denied and have to continually reapply, sometimes waiting years before they are helped by this program. This country, unfortunately, especially within the past couple years, has an extremely poor track record when it comes to assisting individuals who are most need of help. I wish you luck and be sure that you do to apply for disability and keep applying until you get it. Don’t give up. Please take care and thank you for writing.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 13 Nov 2007

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2007). Will I Get Disability with Severe Bipolar Disorder. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 31, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2007/11/13/will-i-get-disability-with-severe-bipolar-disorder/

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