Living with a disability is not uncommon. In fact, according to Center of Disease Control, 20% of all Americans live with some form of a disability. That means that more than 57 million Americans are living with some type of condition or impairment. Likewise, the Social Security Administration has compiled injury statistics over the years and has found that a 20 year old worker has a 20 percent chance of becoming disabled. While some people may be able to adapt and work despite their impairment, such as bipolar disorder, others cannot. For those with a severe disability who can meet the program’s non-medical and medical requirements, the Social Security Disability (SSD, SSDI) program can provide cash benefit payments.
While the SSD program is a blessing and often an essential resource for hard working people, qualifying to receive them can be extremely difficult. The mere suspicion of a disability or impairment will not be enough to win benefits. Likewise, a mere diagnosis of a condition, alone, will not entitle one to SSD benefits. Rather qualifying for benefits requires an individual to present objective testing results combined with reports of daily activities and other information about how your condition causes significant limitations. Thus, it is no surprise that the national average for initial disability claim approval is around thirty percent. But working with an experienced Fayetteville AR disability lawyer can improve the likelihood of a benefit award at the initial stage or following a rejection by filing an appeal.
You can satisfy a Social Security Administration Listing
All claims for Social Security benefits must proceed through the SSA’s 5-step sequential evaluation process. At Step 3 of the process, the Social Security Administration (SSA) compares your condition and its impacts to conditions that it considers to be so severe that they have been specifically listed. If it is determined by the SSA that your condition meets, equals, or is functionally equivalent to a listed condition you will automatically qualify for benefits without having to satisfy steps 4 and 5 of the process.
The Social Security Administration considers bipolar disorder to be an affective disorder. To meet or equal the listing you must show signs and symptoms of severe depression and mania. Medically documented signs and symptoms of depression can include:
- Changes to appetite or loss of appetite
- Decreased energy
- Visual or auditory hallucinations
- Suicidal thoughts or tendencies
- Psychomotor issues
- Loss of interest in things previously found to be enjoyable
Similarly, you should be able to show and prove medically documented signs or symptoms of mania. These can include:
- Perceived lack of need for sleep
- Overly inflated view of self
- Failure to recognize excessive risk-taking behavior
Alternatively, the applicant may show their bipolar condition that is expressed by the signs and symptoms of mania and depression as described above and the condition causes at least marked difficulties in two of the following:
- Maintaining concentration, pace or persistence
- Maintaining social functions
- Activities of daily living
- Repeated, extended episodes of decompensation
Even if you do not satisfy the Listing and qualify for benefits at step 3 of the process, you may still qualify in steps 4 and 5 due to your reduced ability to carry out tasks independently.
You can qualify based on reduced functional & working abilities
If you have a severe bipolar disorder impairment, the impairment does not meet or equal the listing, you may still qualify for benefits. This is because at Step 4 of the process, your residual functional capacity is calculated. Residual functional capacity, or RFC, simply means the things you are still able to do despite your severe impairment. Typically your RFC is assessed on the basis of reports of daily activities provided by relatives, friends, clergy, and other close associates. It is common for the disability claim examiner to also seek an opinion from a state consultative medical examiner.
At Step 4 your ability to perform past work will be assessed. If you cannot perform the work that you have done over approximately the last 15 years, you will move to step 5 of the process. At Step 5 it will be determined if there is alternate work in the national economy available that your RFC would allow you to perform. If alternate work is not available, you will pass step 5 and be entitled to benefits for your bipolar condition.
Call Our Disability Attorneys in Arkansas
If you have developed a serious condition or impairment that prevents you from continuing work, Social Security Disability can serve as an essential lifeline. To schedule a free and confidential initial SSD consultation, call (479) 316-0438 today or contact us online.