Bipolar Disorder and Social Security Disability The Social Security Administration uses a process called sequential evaluation to determine who receives benefits. Here is an explanation of Social Security's five-step process to determine if bipolar disorder qualifies for SSDI: STEP ONE simply determines if an individual is "working (engaging in substantial gainful activity)," according to the SSA definition. Earning more than $810 a month as an employee is enough for disqualification from receiving Social Security disability benefits. STEP TWO implies that the bipolar disorder disability must be severe enough to significantly limit one’s ability to perform basic work activities needed to do most jobs; for example: walking, standing, sitting, lifting, pushing, pulling, reaching, carrying or handling seeing, hearing and speaking understanding/carrying out and remembering simple instructions use of judgment responding appropriately to supervision, co-workers and usual work situations dealing with changes in a routine work setting STEP THREE asks if the bipolar disability meets or equals a medical listing. Bipolar is listed under mental disorders. To satisfy the listing criteria for bipolar disorder a number of variables are considered: anhedonia appetite disturbance sleep disturbance psychomotor agitation or retardation decreased energy feelings of guilt or worthlessness difficulty concentrating or thinking thoughts of suicide and hallucinations delusions or paranoid thinking In assessing a bipolar disability severity of a listing level impairment, activities of daily living, social functioning, concentration, persistence, pace and repeated episodes of decompensation are evaluated. A person who has four symptoms present from the depressive syndrome list as well as marked restriction of activities of daily living and marked difficulties in maintaining social functioning would be found to have a listing level impairment. STEP FOUR explores the ability of an individual to perform work he has done in the past despite his bipolar disorder disability. If SSA finds that a person can do his past work, benefits are denied. If the person cannot, then the process proceeds to the fifth and final step. STEP FIVE looks at age, education, work experience and physical/mental condition to determine what other work, if any, the person can perform. To determine disability, SSA enlists vocational rules, which vary according to age. For example, if a person is: Under age 50 and, as a result of the symptoms of Bipolar disorder, unable to perform what SSA calls sedentary work, then SSA will reach a determination of disabled. Sedentary work requires the ability to lift a maximum of 10 pounds at a time, sit six hours and occasionally walk and stand two hours per eight-hour day. Age 50 or older and, due to his bipolar disorder disability, limited to performing sedentary work but has no work-related skills that allow him to do so, SSA will reach a determination of disabled. Over age 60 and, due to his bipolar disorder disability unable to perform any of the jobs he performed in the last 15 years, SSA will likely reach a determination of disabled. Any age and, because of Bipolar disorder, has a psychological impairment that prevents even simple, unskilled work, SSA will reach a determination of disabled. Problems To Overcome In Receiving Social Security Disability Benefits More than one million people will file for benefits from the Social Security Administration this year. The bad news is, 60% who apply for benefits will be denied. The good news is, help is available to improve your odds of getting benefits, should you or a loved one become disabled. All working Americans contribute 7.65 percent from every paycheck to FICA tax. Some of that payment goes toward disability insurance coverage by the Social Security Administration. However, bureaucratic problems plaguing SSA’s Disability Insurance program prevent fair and speedy distribution of benefits to people who are eligible. These are some of the problems you’ll face if you choose to apply by yourself: A backlog of more than a million unprocessed disability claims; An average five-month wait after filing a claim before receiving an answer on the initial claim, and almost a year of additional delays if the claim is appealed; A backlog of 1.5 million disability cases now awaiting review, with another half million cases coming up for review each year.
 
Eligibility Form <http://www.allsupinc.com/ssds/apply_online. ©2003, Bipolar Disorder and Social Security Disability

 

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