Bipolar Disorder and Disability Insurance: A Claimant’s Guide
According to the World Health Organization, bipolar disease is the seventh most disabling condition in the world. If you’re among the estimated 5.7 million Americans suffering with bipolar, it might be difficult (or even impossible) to maintain consistent employment due to your symptoms.
At Bryant Legal Group, we help people with bipolar disorder get the disability insurance benefits they deserve. In this article, we explain the essentials of bipolar disorder and how to strengthen your disability insurance claim.
What Is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder is a psychological disorder involving episodes of mania and depression. During a manic episode, you might experience euphoria, insomnia, and poor concentration. You might also be prone to reckless actions, such as spending money irresponsibly or being sexually promiscuous. In very severe cases, victims can become psychotic or hallucinate.
During a depressive episode, you might feel hopeless or helpless, suffer from fatigue, and experience crying spells. In some cases, it may feel impossible to leave the house or tend to your daily activities.
Psychologists and psychiatrists categorize bipolar depression into five different types:
- Type I: You experience manic episodes that either require hospitalization or last for at least seven days — plus depressive episodes for a minimum of two weeks.
- Type II: You have depressive episodes but do not suffer from full manic episodes. Instead, you have milder hypomanic symptoms.
- Cyclothymic: Your symptoms don’t reach the level of full depressive or manic episodes, but you experience both hypomania and depressive symptoms.
- Not Otherwise Specified (NOS): You have manic and depressive symptoms that do not match any other types of bipolar depression.
- Mixed: You sometimes experience manic and depressive episodes simultaneously.
While some people can manage their bipolar symptoms with consistent treatment, including medications and psychotherapy, many struggle to find the right treatment plan. Sadly, about 25% to 50% of people with bipolar disorder attempt or commit suicide.
Can I Get Disability Insurance Benefits for Bipolar Disorder?
Manic and depressive episodes can make it challenging to find and maintain competitive and consistent employment. Many of our clients with bipolar disorder report problems with:
- Absenteeism and reliability
- Poor concentration, limited attention spans, and racing thoughts
- Difficulty completing even simple tasks
- Mood swings and erratic behavior
- Disrupted sleep and fatigue
- Decreased motivation
- Memory problems
Additionally, many of them struggle with other mental health issues and substance abuse.
If you and your doctors believe that you can no longer perform your essential duties at work, you might be eligible for short– or long-term disability benefits. However, insurance adjusters are often skeptical of bipolar claims — especially if you sometimes don’t take your medications, resist treatment, or have a history of substance use.
How Can I Strengthen My Disability Insurance Claim for Bipolar?
Insurance companies deny many bipolar-related claims, even when there is compelling evidence of disability. We suggest taking the following steps to put yourself in the best position to succeed with your bipolar-related disability claim.
Be Open and Honest With Your Mental Health Providers
Bipolar disorder is not an easy condition to diagnose and treat. You can help your doctors and therapists by providing them with accurate information about your symptoms. While it can be difficult to talk about your manic and depressive episodes, these discussions can help your providers treat your condition. If you have a hard time remembering your day-to-day symptoms, consider starting a disability journal.
Sometimes, your symptoms may require hospitalization. While no one likes spending time in an acute care center, your health and wellness should be your top priority. Don’t skip doctors’ appointments or minimize your symptoms when you’re in crisis.
In addition to providing much–needed mental health care, your therapists and doctors will document your reports of manic and depressive episodes in their records, substantiating your self-reported symptoms. This can strengthen your disability insurance claim.
Ask Your Support Network for Help
When you’re in the midst of a manic or depressive episode, you might have a hard time making smart decisions about your health and wellness. However, your loved ones may see warning signs that you do not. Trust your friends and family, and seek medical care when they suggest it.
Similarly, if you need help taking your medications or getting to your doctors’ appointments, ask for help. Your loved ones can provide reminders, perform wellness checks, and provide transportation to and from doctors’ offices.
Work With an Experienced Disability Insurance Lawyer
Filing a short– or long-term disability insurance claim requires meticulous attention to detail and extensive legal and medical knowledge. Unlike an adjuster, who works for the insurance company, a disability insurance lawyer will be on your side.
At Bryant Legal Group, we help our clients navigate their bipolar-related insurance claims, ensuring they meet strict filing deadlines, build strong evidentiary records, and don’t get taken advantage of by unscrupulous insurance companies.
Bryant Legal Group: Knowledgeable and Respected Disability Insurance Lawyers
If you or a loved one are living with bipolar disorder, the team at Bryant Legal Group can help you understand your legal options. We’ve been assisting people with serious mental health conditions for decades and understand the challenges that you face. As one of Illinois’ premier disability law firms, we can also help you regain control of your life and finances.
To schedule a no-risk consultation, please contact us by calling (312) 561-3010 or completing this brief form. If you need immediate mental health treatment due to thoughts of suicide or self-harm, please call 911 immediately.
Bipolar disorder statistics. (n.d.) Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. Retrieved from https://www.dbsalliance.org/education/bipolar-disorder/bipolar-disorder-statistics/
Jamison, K.R. (2000). Suicide and bipolar disorder. The Journal of Clinical Psychology, 61 (suppl 9), 47-51. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10826661
The Global Burden of Disease: 2004 Update. (2008). Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/healthinfo/global_burden_disease/GBD_report_2004update_full.pdf?ua=1
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.