Is bipolar a disability?

I have been bipolar since I can remember I always worked an took care of myself until recently I became worse and couln’t keep a job now I want to apply for disability can bipolar be consider as a illness?

I’ll begin by saying Bipolar disorder is most definitely an illness.  It affects a wide range of people all over the world and the percentage is even greater here in the United States.  More and more you are seeing it.  I guarantee you know someone who either has it or knows someone who has it.  But that is not the answer you are looking for, you want to know if the Government considers it an illness in order for you to get disability.  The answer to that question is yes they do, but it is a very difficult thing to prove.

First you need a doctor who is willing to fight the fight with you, because it will be a battle.  When you fill out the paperwork the first time don’t expect to be to be approved.  Most people (even people with physical illnesses) are not approved the first go around.  You will have 60 days to appeal the decision.  Appeal it right away and get yourself an attorney.  Don’t waste any time.  Again you must have a doctor (with good medical records) backing you up.  It may take several appeals.  In the end it may even go in front of a judge.  Don’t panic, this is a good thing.  You get your day in court, to tell your side of the story.  In the end someone (the judge or the board whichever level you are at) will make their decision, and you will decide if that’s the decision you can live with or if you want to keep trying.  I suggest that you don’t give up and I’ll tell you why.

I became unable to work back in May of 2008.  I filed for my disability and they denied me.  I was in a deep depression and so I chalked that up to just one more thing that was going wrong and I gave up.  In 2009 I decided to try again.  So I went back and refilled.  In the process of all this I had started seeing a therapist in addition to the psychiatrist I was already seeing.  Again, they denied me but this time I appealed it and I got me a good attorney.  When I filled the appeal I sent in the records from my therapist also.  Almost a year went by (the government gets in a hurry for no one) and finally I got my letter.  We ended up having to go in front of a judge a year later for a technicality on my case and I asked my attorney what had swayed them in my favor.  He said apparently it was the letter my therapist had included in her records.

It took two years to get my case properly resolved and in the end what it all boiled down to were records and a letter from a therapist.  So see it is very important to have a team or someone backing you up.  Bipolar is definitely an Illness but as my attorney told me any mental illness is so much harder to prove than a physical illness.  I know it’s not fair.  We live with this stigma every day, everywhere we go.  “If you can’t see it, it must not be real.”  But it IS real.  And it is so very real to us.  I wish you luck in your pursuit for disability.  It is a very hard and discouraging road.  But try not to let it get you down.  Just remember others have been there and they have struggled thru and came thru to the end, you can too.

2 thoughts on “Is bipolar a disability?

  1. Like Angel said often times you won’t get approved the first time around. When I first applied I had a psychiatrist, a psychologist and a union rep all backing me. However that still wasn’t enough the first time. I was fortunate enough to have an awesome union rep who was previously a lawyer so I was able to avoid hiring a lawyer. Initially I had been diagnosed with ADHD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Depression. Perhaps that is why I was denied I’m not really sure. Once I was “correctly diagnosed” as having Bipolar II Disorder I applied again and although it took about 6 months for my application to be approved it was. The other thing to keep in mind is that different states/countries may have different rules and procedures. I live in Canada so the process here may be different from other places…..

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