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How to Apply for Disability for Bipolar

Updated July 19, 2017

Individuals who have bipolar disorder often find it difficult to function day to day. Even the simplest tasks, like holding down a job, maintaining a household, and running daily errands, can become insurmountable obstacles. Fortunately, the Social Security Administration (SSA) recognises bipolar disorder as a valid medical reason to apply for disability benefits. Although the process can be long and arduous, you can win your claim if you have the right knowledge and fortitude.

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  1. Ensure that you meet the SSA requirements for the application for benefits. You must have a documented history of bipolar disorder. Your medical history will be verified when the SSA obtains your medical records from any physicians or mental health professionals that have treated you.

  2. Obtain a Disability Starter Kit. It can be downloaded online at http://www.ssa.gov/disability/disability_starter_kits.htm. Each kit contains three important documents that you should carefully read and fill out. One document is a fact sheet that addresses commonly asked questions. The second document is a checklist of the specific documents the SSA will need to process your claim. The third item is a worksheet that helps you compile the data needed to complete your application.

  3. Prepare for your interview. In most cases, a doctor working with the SSA will want to meet with you privately. During this process, you will be asked in-depth questions about your condition and how bipolar disorder has impaired your ability to work and live your life.

  4. Be patient and do not give up. The entire application process can take months, and in some cases, years. If you are rejected by the SSA, don't take it personally. You always have the option to appeal your rejection and continue on with the reapplication process. Many people win their claim after several months of negotiating with the SSA.

  5. Tip

    Notify your doctors and other health care professionals of your intention to apply for disability benefits. They can work on your behalf by writing letters and making phone calls to provide more detailed information about your condition. Stay updated on the status of your claim. You will be assigned an individual case worker whom you can contact during regular business hours. If you have not heard from the SSA after applying or if you become concerned about the status of your application, contact your case worker.


    When applying for disability benefits, you should not have a job (or, at the very least, you should not be working full time). If you earn more than £559 per month, you will be excluded from receiving Social Security benefits.

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Things You'll Need

  • Disability Starter Kit
  • Disability application and other paperwork

About the Author

Donn Saylor comes from a diverse and eclectic professional background in not-for-profit, small business and corporate environments. He has been a freelance writer since 2007. Saylor's work has appeared in numerous publications, both online and in print.

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