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Bipolar disorder and Social Security benefits

Social Security provides mental illness coverage for qualifying mental conditions under two programs. Bipolar disorder meets these eligibility requirements because it causes mood swings that make education, work and parts of daily living hard to perform.

Social Security Disability Insurance pays benefits to disabled workers across the nation, including those in New Jersey, who had Social Security taxes deducted from their pay. These beneficiaries, usually working adults, must have a sufficiently-long work history.

Supplemental Security Income typically provides benefits to older and disabled beneficiaries who meet stringent financial limits. Children may apply for these benefits and their parents are usually required to submit financial information as part of the application.

A claimant for SSD benefits or SSI must have a disability or condition defined in the Blue Book. For adults, bipolar disorder is contained in section 12.04 mental disorders-affective disorders. The condition for children is contained in section 112.04 mental disorders-mood disorders.

Adults are asked whether they have a two-year history of this condition and receive treatment for it. They must also display specific symptoms. The eligibility listing for children requires the observation of symptoms matching major depressive syndrome and manic syndrome.

Claimants should obtain their health records and information on hospitalizations, therapy and diagnosis. Statements from mental health or medical professionals may also be important to meet eligibility requirements.

Adults may begin their application online or by meeting with a SSA representative. Children, however, must submit their applications in person.

Applicants will have to wait at least one month, oftentimes more, for a decision on their eligibility. The SSA rejects many applications for being incomplete or failing to meet requirements on eligibility. A rejection, however, may be appealed within 60 days.

Benefits may be vital by paying for treatments, medical bills, food, utility bills and other daily expenses. An attorney can assist claimants with completing these applications, obtaining important documents and appealing a denial.

Source: International Bipolar Foundation, "How to apply for Social Security Disability with bipolar disorder," Accessed June 20, 2017

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