As a Texas attorney practicing social security disability exclusively in Dallas and North Texas for 25 years, I have won many social security disability insurance and supplemental security income cases based upon bipolar syndrome. Bipolar I Disorder is the more serious of the two types of Bipolar Disorders. This is due to the presence of Manic Episodes in the criteria for Bipolar I Disorder. There is an absence of Manic Episodes in the criteria for Bipolar II Disorder, rather it involves a history of hypomania. Hypomania is similar to mania; however, it is not serious enough to cause social or occupational impairment, hospitalization, or psychotic feature This is due to the presence of Manic Episodes in the criteria for Bipolar I Disorder. There is an absence of Manic Episodes in the criteria for Bipolar II Disorder, rather it involves a history of hypomania. Hypomania is similar to mania; however, it is not serious enough to cause social or occupational impairment, hospitalization, or psychotic features.
So can Texans suffering from Bipolar Disorder I or II qualify for social security disability benefits? Yes, if the mental condition precludes any and all work activity. Let’s dig deeper into how social security analyzes a disability claim ased upon Bipolar Disorder. It is important to know that all disability claims are assessed using the same framework: The 5-step Sequential Evaluation Process. Take a look at “are you disabled?” to better understand the “roadmap” that social security will follow in determining if you are disabled.
The most direct path to a favorable social security disability decision based upon Bipolar Disorder is for the government to find that the condition “meets a listing”. A listing is simply a set on findings for a given illness that social security has found, through consultation with medical experts, would bee expected to result in inability to work. In general, listings are hard to meet (failure to meet a listing is not the end of the road for the disability claimant under the 5-step Sequential Evaluation Process) but are a more common path to victory in mental disability cases. So lets take a close look at the listing for Bipolar Disorder. The legalize is in the box below for reference, but I fully explain and cut through the government lingo. The listing requires a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder along with the following:
Medical documentation of Bipolar Disorder, characterized by three or more of the following:
Flight of ideas;
Decreased need for sleep;
Involvement in activities that have a high probability of painful consequences that are not recognized;
Increase in goal-directed activity or psychomotor agitation
Extreme limitation of one, or marked limitation of two, of the following areas of mental functioning (see 12.00F):
Understand, remember, or apply information (see 12.00E1).
Interact with others (see 12.00E2).
Concentrate, persist, or maintain pace (see 12.00E3).
Adapt or manage oneself (see 12.00E4).
Your mental disorder in this listing category is “serious and persistent;” that is, you have a medically documented history of the existence of the disorder over a period of at least 2 years, and there is evidence of both:
Medical treatment, mental health therapy, psychosocial support(s), or a highly structured setting(s) that is ongoing and that diminishes the symptoms and signs of your mental disorder (see 12.00G2b); and
Marginal adjustment, that is, you have minimal capacity to adapt to changes in your environment or to demands that are not already part of your daily life (see 12.00G2c) .
OK, that is a lot of words. But basically the listing for Bipolar Disorder presents 2 possible paths to a favorable disability finding. The first requires at least 3 of a set of symptoms like pressure speech or flight of ideas, PLUS limitations resulting from the Bipolar Disorder in mental functions like interacting with others and managing oneself. The second path requires Bipolar Disorder of longstanding (at least 2 years) that is simply not responding adequately to medical treatment and medication.
Dallas Fort Worth social seecurity disability applicants that are unable to work due to Bipolar Disorder need an experienced local social security disability lawyer to relate the medical finding and medical evidence to the criterion of the above listing in order to secure a favorable disability decision based upon meeting the criteria of the “Listing”.