Bipolar disorder affects roughly 6 million adults in the United States. For many of those individuals, the symptoms of bipolar disorder will interfere with day to day life—and their careers. Many people find that their bipolar affects their ability to concentrate, to complete tasks, to maintain work relationships or even to leave the house. This means that bipolar disorder meets the definition of a disability, and you have the right to receive Social Security Disability benefits (SSDI). But in Atlanta, the majority of bipolar SSDI applications are rejected. If you are seeking benefits for your bipolar disorder, you should speak to an Atlanta SSDI lawyer immediately.
John Foy & Associates is here to help you. For over 20 years we have dedicated our practice to the injured, ill and disabled. We work patiently and compassionately with individuals living with a variety of mental disorders, and we have experienced success with SSDI claims for bipolar disorder. Give us a call and let us offer you a free consultation to discuss your SSDI application. Call John Foy & Associates at 404-400-4000 and get your free consultation today.
Does bipolar disorder qualify for SSDI in Atlanta?
Yes. Any mental disorder that prevents you from working can qualify for SSDI benefits, period. Additionally, bipolar disorder (sometimes called manic depressive disorder) has been officially recognized by the Social Security Administration (SSA). When evaluating disability claims, the SSA uses a comprehensive manual known as the List of Impairments. This manual lists all known medical conditions that commonly cause disabilities. There is an entire chapter dedicated to mental disorders, and Section 12.04, “Affective Disorders,” specifically lists bipolar disorder.
Simply having bipolar disorder doesn’t mean you automatically qualify, however. The SSA also needs to have evidence that your particular case of bipolar disorder is severe enough that it prevents you from working. You will need documentation of both your diagnosis and the severity of your condition.
How do I prove that my bipolar disorder prevents me from working?
The SSA offers two ways you can prove this. The first involves having documentation that your bipolar has led to two or more of these situations:
- Marked restriction of activities of daily living
- Marked difficulties in maintaining social functioning
- Marked difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace
- Repeated episodes of decompensation, each of extended duration
The second way involves showing a 2 year history (or longer) of chronic bipolar disorder, with evidence that your mental health is likely to deteriorate (“decompensate”) with the added strain of working.
Meeting these requirements sounds hard. But we find that for most severe bipolar sufferers, the requirements are already met—we simply have to identify the right documents in your mental history to prove it.
What if I have another condition besides bipolar disorder?
We can focus on either condition, or both, in your application. In many cases this will dramatically improve your chances of being approved for benefits. For example, if you have bipolar disorder and another mental disorder, such as a personality disorder, we can focus on the combined effect of both disorders and the way that it limits your ability to function in a work setting. If you have a physical disability, such as diabetes, obesity, or heart disease, we can focus more on the physical ailment because it is easier to prove the limits it puts on your capacity to work.
Do I have to take medication to receive SSDI benefits for bipolar disorder?
There is no requirement by the SSA that you take medication. However, if you have been treated by a psychiatrist who recommended medication and you are not taking it, it will count against you on your application. The SSA wants to know that you’re doing everything possible to improve your mental health, and if you refuse treatment they will assume this is the reason you aren’t well enough to work.
That doesn’t mean you have to take medication that you disagree with taking. There are several options we can use:
- Seek a statement from your doctor saying that you are complying with treatment
- Ask your doctor if there are other treatment options besides the problematic medication
- Help you see a doctor who specializes in bipolar disorder and can recommend a different treatment
What if my bipolar disorder SSDI claim has already been turned down?
You have the right to appeal it, and we often see a much higher success rate on the appeal.
In Atlanta, when you first apply for SSDI benefits your application is reviewed by a government employee known as an “adjudicator.” Adjudicators turn down a large number of applications, especially those involving a mental condition like bipolar disorder. If you appeal your first rejection, the appeal will also be handled by an adjudicator, often with similar results.
But if you file a second appeal it goes before a judge. You get a formal hearing in court, and the judge tends to go into much more detail looking at the evidence than an adjudicator does. You also have the advantage that your lawyer can represent you in person at the hearing and make an argument on your behalf.
We see a high success rate of getting SSDI claims accepted once they go in front of a judge. We can help you make the strongest claim possible.
Is there a deadline to appeal my SSDI case in Atlanta?
Yes. After both the first denial and the second denial, you have only 60 days to appeal the decision. If you miss this deadline your case becomes more complicated. You can still seek benefits again, but you have to effectively start the whole application process over. This also affects how far back you can reach into your medical history. In many cases you will have to wait a full 12 months from the date of your last SSDI decision to submit a new one. This can all be avoided if you act quickly after having your first application denied. We recommend talking to an SSDI lawyer as quickly as possible.
Talk to an Atlanta Social Security Disability Lawyer for Free
No one believes SSDI is perfect. But when your bipolar disorder prevents you from working, SSDI benefits may be the only thing that helps you keep a roof over your head and provide for your family. Don’t risk having your application rejected. Call John Foy & Associates and let us give you a FREE consultation. We can help you identify the weak points in your application, get the medical records to fix them, and maximize your chances of getting benefits. Call us at 404-400-4000 or fill out the form to your right and get your FREE consultation today.