Have you filed an application for Social Security Disability due to Bipolar Disorder?  If you have applied, or you are thinking about applying, there are things you should know about how the Social Security Administration (SSA) will examine your claim for disability.  Mental health claims can be difficult to prove compared to physical disability claims.

There is really no objective diagnostic testing for a condition like Bipolar Disorder. 

A person with back impairments can receive an x-ray or MRI to determine the severity of the condition, but there is not an equivalent test for Bipolar Disorder. So, what can you do to prove your claim?  The SSA generally wants to see that you receive treatment on an ongoing basis.  This can include attending regular therapy sessions with a licensed professional, seeing a psychiatrist on a regular basis, and taking your psychiatric medications as prescribed and needed. 

If you can get a Medical Source Statement from your mental health professional, it can also enhance your chances of winning your claim. My office has crafted questionnaires that your providers can complete to give their opinion on your symptoms and limitations. The SSA has certain criteria they acknowledge as meeting or equaling the severity needed to establish disability; they can be found in SSA’s Listing of Impairments.  If you are unable to secure a statement from your medical professional, it does not necessarily mean you will lose your case. A competent Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) can look through your medical record and determine if you meet one of these listings by careful examination of your medical record.

It is important to remember that there are things you can do to hurt your chances of winning.  This includes the use of alcohol and/or illicit drugs.  If the SSA determines the use of these substances is material to your disabling condition(s), they may deny your claim.  In my experience, the abuse of drugs and/or alcohol can make it exceedingly difficult to win a Social Security disability claim for mental impairments.  The SSA will also look to see if you are complying with your medical providers’ treatment plan. It may be hard to win your claim if you refuse to take medications as prescribed or miss your appointments.

In summary, you can win a Social Security disability claim for Bipolar Disorder, but the presentation of evidence and your compliance with treatment can be very important.  My office strives to let our clients know the impact of these important factors and how they may impact their case.