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What is bipolar disorder and the requirements for SSD benefits?

A problem frequently experienced by Oklahomans who are suffering from mental illness is that they are unaware of the exact problem they have or that they can seek Social Security disability benefits because of it. Filing for disability benefits for a mental illness such as bipolar disorder has certain requirements, but for a person who is suffering from the disorder, it is quite beneficial to understand the criteria and move forward with an application.

First, it is imperative to understand the symptoms of depression, bipolar and other similar disorders. A person who is irritable, depressed, has an elevated or expressive mood, or has lost interest or pleasure in nearly all activities and it leads to a significant reduction in functioning, might have this issue. The following symptoms are common: problems sleeping, feeling hopeless or guilty, thinking of suicide, changes to bodyweight, changes to appetite, a rise or decrease in energy, a reduction in impulse control, euphoria, and sadness. There are others.

When applying for SSD benefits for bipolar disorder, the applicant must satisfy the requirements in either category A and B or A and C. For A with bipolar disorder, there must be three of the following: pressured speech; flight of ideas; an inflation in self-esteem; a reduced need for sleep; being easily distracted; taking part in activities that have a significant chance of unrecognized painful aftereffects; or an increase in goal-directed activity or mental agitation. For B, there must be an extreme limitation of one or marked limitation of two of the following: understanding, remembering or applying information; interacting with others; concentrating, persisting or pacing; or adapting and managing oneself.

With C, the disorder must be classified as "serious and persistent" meaning that there is medical documentation of the issue lasting for a minimum of two years with evidence of: medical treatment, therapy, support and living in a setting that is highly structured; and marginal adjustment meaning that the person is minimally capable of adapting to environmental changes or demands that are not common in the daily life.

For people who are struggling with bipolar disorder, filing for disability benefits is an alternative to receive help. However, it is important to understand the criteria for being approved. Discussing a case with a legal professional who is experienced in helping clients receive Social Security disability benefits for mental conditions is a crucial step.

Source: ssa.gov, "DI 34001.032 Mental Disorders -- 3. Depressive, bipolar and related disorders; 12.04," accessed on Aug. 8, 2017

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