While some people can manage the symptoms of their mental illnesses, others find the weight of living with mental health issues to be debilitating. Bipolar disorder can be especially difficult to live with. Whether you recently received your diagnosis or have lived with bipolar disorder for many years, you need help if it is impacting your ability to work.
Although many people in Minnesota associate Social Security Disability Insurance benefits with physical disabilities, they are also available to people with mental health issues. The Social Security Administration — SSA — acknowledges bipolar disorder as one of several mental illnesses that may interfere with people’s ability to work. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you are curious about SSDI benefits for bipolar disorder.
Understanding bipolar disorder
Bipolar disorder involves unusual shifts in your mood, energy and activity levels. It is cyclical in nature, and you may experience low, depressive moods that swing into periods of high energy, often called mania. There are four distinct kinds of bipolar disorder:
- Bipolar I
- Bipolar II
- Unspecified bipolar disorders
- Cyclothymic disorder
Bipolar I and II are the most common. The main difference is that bipolar I tends to be more severe, with manic episodes that can last for as long as a week and may end in hospitalization. Bipolar II is still a serious mental health disorder that can limit someone’s ability to work, but manic and depressive episodes tend to be shorter and less extreme.
What about medication and therapy?
Medication, therapy and other treatments can be key to managing bipolar symptoms. However, this is often not enough to totally eliminate symptoms or the impact on your life. While you might feel better with medication than without, it is entirely possible that you may still be unable to work.
Documentation for your medication and treatment is important, though. When reviewing an application for SSDI benefits, the SSA requires rigorous documentation to support all claims. Keeping careful records of doctor visits, medication and hospitalizations can all be helpful.
Why does bipolar disorder make it hard to work?
The alternating high and low moods associated with bipolar disorder can make it difficult for you to consistently stick to any schedule. The symptoms of both depression and mania can also interfere with a regular job. Many people with bipolar disorder struggle with things like distractions, pressured speech and sleep troubles, making it hard to maintain employment.
SSDI benefits are an essential lifeline to anyone who is unable to work due to a disability or mental illness. Proving that you are unable to work can be a challenge, though. The symptoms that make it impossible to hold down a job can also make it difficult to gather all of the necessary documentation to secure benefits. While this can feel understandably overwhelming, taking the process one step at a time can be helpful.