Bipolar disorder is a psychotic illness that can cause drastic changes in a person’s mood. A person suffering from bipolar disorder at times may be confused and disordered in their thinking. This is disorder is not classified as depression. Bipolar disorder involves manic symptoms, but can also involve a depressive phase. But it is entirely possible that a bipolar disorder will only involve the manic syndrome and not involve the depressive syndrome. While in the manic phase such a person may have unusual speech, while impractical ideas, unnatural cheerfulness and strange associations. Many people with bipolar disorder may deny that they are ill and even claim to feel wonderful.
Many people with bipolar disorder are able to work as long as they are taking their medication. Others find that the disorder is so severe that even in spite of taking the medication they still cannot work.
The main problem with presenting a bipolar disorder to the Social Security Administration is related to alcoholism and/or substance abuse. A very high percentage of people with bipolar disorder also suffer from substance abuse problems. Many times opinions from doctors in reference to bipolar disorder will mention that person has used alcohol or drugs as a form of self medication. Although this is a very reasonable and adequate explanation among doctors and psychologists, it presents a very real problem with the Social Security Administration. The Social Security rules and regulations prohibit disability for individuals where drug addiction or alcoholism is a contributing factor material to the determination of disability. Even though the medical community will state that substance abuse disorders cannot cause bipolar disorders, it may be that the bipolar disorder can cause substance abuse disorders. This is the reason why many people suffering from bipolar disorder will self medicate.
Presenting a case to the Social Security Administration involves developing a very comprehensive record of the person’s treatment. Going back in time to show strange behavior is important . Hospital admissions for bipolar are extremely persuasive to the Social Security judge. A history of many jobs in a very short period of time ending with the person getting fired or quitting can be extremely persuasive to the judge. The Social Security judge will focus on the following evidence:
- Serious restriction of daily activities
- Serious problems with social functioning
- Serious problems with concentration, persistence, or pace
- Repeated incidents of decompensation, each lasting a long time