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Bipolar and SSDI benefits: What you should know

Whether you developed a mental condition as a result of a stressful work environment or you were born with a mental disability, these limitations can make it difficult to work. The American with Disabilities Act allows people with physical and mental conditions to receive benefits to help them make ends meet.

While the list of disabilities approved by the ADA includes multiple sclerosis and blindness, it also covers mental conditions, including bipolar disorder.

What is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental condition that causes concise changes in energy levels and mood periodically throughout the day or over several days or weeks, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. You may experience periods of mania, where you are extremely energized and joyful, then have periods of extreme depression. In some cases, these periods may require hospitalization.

Some cases of bipolar can make it difficult for you to work. Yet, you can ask your employer to make accommodations to help you get through the day. These include:

  • Extra breaks during the day
  • Noise cancelling headphones
  • Flexible schedule
  • Support groups

It is your right to receive the accommodations you need to perform your job.

How can you qualify for benefits?

Not everyone who is diagnosed with bipolar disorder will receive benefits through the Social Security Administration. First, you must fill out an application providing proof you have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. You may also show that you belong to a limited income household. You must also show that your bipolar condition makes it extremely difficult for you to maintain a job.

In order to receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, you must have worked at a job where you paid Social Security taxes for a predetermined number of years. For example, a 30-year old applying for benefits must prove he or she worked and paid taxes for at least 2 years.