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Monday, September 22, 2008 RichardS, Community Member, asks

Q: Am I legally disabled if I have bipolar disorder?

In short, it seems to me that many things that normal people do with ease (comparatively) such as finding and keeping a job are very difficult. I thought life might have been better than it was two years ago, but I don't see myself where I thought I would be. I am on 1200mg lithium a day and have been diagnosed simply with 'bipolar disorder' without any elaboration. My first question is 1) Am I disabled?, and 2) Is there anything I can do to improve my situation? Not being able to hold a job and performing poorly in school (I am a university student) is making me desperate for answers.

Thank you for feedback of any kind.

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Answers (30)
Donna-1, Community Member
12/17/10 6:43pm

I think our "whiney ass" accuser is a troll just seeing what kind of response he can stir up.  There ARE people out there who get their kicks from doing things like that.  Wonder what category they would fall under in the DSM IV...?

mimi, Community Member
5/28/12 8:07pm

so what... seems that u get ur kicks from calling people out, so that doesnt make those kind of people and u any different.


Donna-1, Community Member
5/28/12 8:59pm

Please read my comment posted on on 12/13/10 and all the posts to this question before you pass judgment.  Thank you.

Narelle, Community Member
9/22/08 9:36pm

No short answer and i'm no real expert Richards, but it does depend on which country you come from and how the health system is set up, and also depends on the severity of your illness. I live in Australia and, yes, you can be on a disability pension here with bipolar, I have a friend who is. My friend can hardly function at all as he is on a great deal of medication and has psychotic episodes when he's manic that are very extreme.


However, I am not - I can work and function most of the time with the correct meds at the right dosages (not too high).

So, it depends in Australia, and I would take a wild guess that it depends everywhere else as well.



vivian, Community Member
9/23/08 3:31pm

I live in the usa southern part, and have tried to get on disability in years gone by to no avail. I went to the dept. of vocational rehabilitation and asked what i should do.  they put me in touch with the local mental health clinic where i could be treated. in the meantime of diagnosis  and treatment, i struggled to keep a job. I got fired from two jobs within two years times.  It was a real challenge to go to work, but I did. During this time, I asked my clinician for the route to go about trying for disability.  I re-applied, and was denied. As a divorcee' with little savings and me paying child support, no one would help me. So I struggled.  And I guess I took the only answer I could find...a gentle kind man who had overcome struggles of his own came into my life through church. I did not give up working, still struggling to make child support payments and eat and health care with my disabled tendonitis wrist. I had to go to voc. rehab and explain my health situation (hands) and had to have surgery. This friend paid my light bill and transported me to activities on weekends that were mutually satisfying, like church functions and movies and out to eat.  It helps when you have someone to confide in ( therapist) and a friend who understands. 


I got stronger and worked part time in an office setting until I decided what I could do for better income.  My "friend" proposed marriage to me, and I really searched out what the motive for marrying on both our parts would it was a mutual agreement to support each other in whatever way we could.  And I became a homemaker, and am so grateful I made this decision. I am taking  college classes and learning how to adapt to two stepchildren who are emotionally diabled as well as slow learners, but both have part time jobs now as young adults.


I no longer have child support payments, and have sought out friends throughout my church to do things with and relate to...


otherwise, i would still be trying to survive.  I now am living.


start with vocational rehab....they can help you with a suitable job situation perhaps.  continue with help from medical professsionals.  it will work out..


Carl L, Community Member
9/25/08 7:16am

CoolYes, if your Dr. has diagnosed you with this, and you qualified for SSI or SSDI, then you are considered, in the legal sense, disabled.  But of course, disabled don't mean we can't do anything.  We can do lots of things.  Sometimes we are taught different, and do things a little different and think different.  But lots of Bipolar people have great success and do great things.  There is a list out there of many great people who have done super great things, I mean like stars and all of the like.  You name what it is, and they have done it.  You would be surprised by some of the names on the list of greats.  Time, patience and counceling and meds, and right dieting and sleeping schedules and expercising, and for me, church too, we can do all.  Take care.


lachiebheag, Community Member
3/14/12 1:37pm

Thanks Carl .This is a very positive post.There are to many trols on this site who seem to dwell on the negative.I try very hard to surmount this illness.At the moment I am trying to get my own business off the ground,which is not easy in the current economic climate.I started off with £50,a year ago,and now have stock worth in excess of £10,000.It can be done! However,I still need support,as my stock purchases have outstripped my sales many times.The manic part of BP  can be quite destructive if not managed.Many people do not realise the severity of the effects of BP!

beth, Community Member
9/25/08 8:37am


audie cline, Community Member
9/25/08 9:26am

UndecidedI would like to know the answer to this question. My guess would be how the disorder affects your daily living. I do have a job, but I have to say I do miss work because of episodes. i am on Effexor, lamictal, Seroquell for sleeping.

snmbunnie, Community Member
9/25/08 9:40am

i got my disability because of mental issue reasons. i have bipolar(type a and b), OCD(obsessive compulsive disorder), and panic anxiety disorder. from what i understand, if you have a mental illness that affects your day to day living, including being able to keep a job, then that would qualify you for disability. but, that has been my personal experience, and i am not a lawyer. i would suggest starting the process for disability, the paper work with social security, and get a good attorney. i got turned down before i got an attorney, but i think it would save you some time if you went ahead and got a lawyer now. good luck to you!

rmehrhoff, Community Member
8/25/11 2:17pm

i  have been told now i have  psychotic deprestion and and bipolar ,i been in and out of work all my life, i been  on diff anti dep meds, threw the years  family doctor  and have been taking add meds for years,  and ocd ,and resently aniety panic attacks bad, i cant work any more ,i went to psyc dooctor 26 years ago she told me i would have to go on dis. i took meds and did what i had to do to work now im done meds dont work for me and im afraid i wont get my disabilty,other the two doctors i have been seeing for years trying diff anti dep, meds and the other saying i have severe add and been on and still am on add meds. but the psyc that i seen last week says i have beentaking the wrong stuff se said im psychotic depresed bi-polar ,but i did not tell her about my ocd ,and recent panic and anxiety i have been having ,   do you think i going to have a problem getting my disablity? i cant get recordes of all the psyc iv seen and part of my problem is  my memory cant remembers the names of these doctors ,what advise can you give me i got a dis.lawer and filled last week,how would you go about it, if you were me ! thanks much rm 

Kimk Geisler, Community Member
10/24/12 3:26pm

Hello, I have been battling my Manic Depression for close to 30 years. My heart truly goes out to you and I will be praying for you. Is there a way that you could call your county and find out if they have services such as a disability specialist or peer specialist that may be able to help you get all of your files together for disability? I know that have such people out there. Or I would suggest if you have a patient family or friend that may be able to sit down with you and go through what has happened and maybe that will help yo trigger your memory. Basically you call the places you have received services and have your Medical records forwarded to Social Security, I believe. Do not be afraid to call Social Security and ask as many questions as you need to, that is there JOB, to help the elderly, disabled, and poor get help.

I was blessed to have my Mother help me and I received SSD the first time. I cannot fully remember the processs because I was drugged up and my memory was affected as well, all I remember was that the Doctors documentation was gold and getting all of the documents from all of my Hospitalizations was vital to getting the SSD.

God Bless You, Keep the Faith and God will help you get through this, I know he has helped me, K

P.S. Bi polar disorder is definetely a Legal Disability, a true mental illness, and very difficult to live with. If you get the disability help, then you are able to have some type of relief and put your Mental Health number one. You can then focus fully on your recovery and also help others by doing volunteer work or other such things that interest you.

itiswhatitis, Community Member
5/23/12 11:50am

well thats the problem i called a lawyer he said i would have to be out of work 12 months before i could get disability how is that how do bills get paid for 12 months cause unemployment dosent pay bills  for some reason i think hes wrong i am just going to go to doctor get diganosed and try and apply for disabilty see what happens

trebenaid, Community Member
9/25/08 9:56am

It is my understanding that really ANY mental illness can render a person disabled to a certain degree.  The question is, is that mental illness making life unbearable to negotiate. 

I personally am disabled legally.  But I must say, disability is very over-rated.  This is not a life quest for most people.  I have gotten the help I needed and am slowly trying to pull myself out of this hole. 

But I must admit that had I been trying to support myself during this time of healing, I would be a lot further in this hole than I am now.

So my advice is to take stock of what you got going on.  Disability is a demeaning and humiliating way to live at best, but if you need it, it can really help.  But don't look at it as an end all.  Once you get the help you need there is so much more out there for you.

Good luck.

mary, Community Member
8/14/10 11:13am

I m sorry but i disagree with you when you say disability is demeaning and humiliating,i don`t see how it can be if you worked all your life and paid in to the system like my self and you are now unable to work any longer 

then its our rights to seek that help, after all it is our own money we we ask for 

when applying for disability and there is nothing humiliating about living on your own money and it is the illness that causes the disability in the first place ,that is demeaning  


dianna, Community Member
9/25/08 10:04am
I don't know Reply
POM, Community Member
9/25/08 10:45am

Not sure, but I am Bipolar II, and and I am on SSD.  My original diagnosis was Chronic Fatigue Syndrome -- I was incapacitated after collapsing during my step-daughter's wedding.  I couldn't work, barely walk and breathing was about all I could manage for months.  I went through a battery of neurological testing -- all negative. 

I lost my retirement and savings and spent most of my time in bed.  I applied for SSD after my private insurance dropped my disability and have received it since.  I am nearing the age where it will switch over to regular Social Security and the amount will be reduced, but tha is another tale.

I have made slow but steady progress since the onset, survived two suicide attempts and now rely on Seroquel and Cymbalta to keep me on an even keel.  I reported my illness to be Bipolar II when reviewed by the SSA, but I am not sure whether that meant anything.  My guess, and/or answer to the question would be yes, providing you meet their criteria as to how severe the disblity is...

DIANA MEDIZZA, Community Member
9/25/08 11:06am


kelly, Community Member
5/31/10 7:25am

you stupid cow!!! how dare you, you try living with it what an ignorant comment, some of us were unlucky enough to be born with it some of us want to lead normal lives and people like you make me sick, do we need to be??? well i tell you what you try living with the voices the suicidle rages the darkness the mood swings the manic episodes go on i dare you then come back and post crap on here.

cathryne, Community Member
12/18/10 12:02am

Kelly:  Hi, I'm sorry but to whom, exactly, are you addressing your comment?

cathryne, Community Member
12/18/10 12:02am

Kelly:  Hi, I'm sorry but to whom, exactly, are you addressing your comment?

Stephanie, Community Member
8/30/12 11:47pm

I couldn't have put it better! hahahaha people who don't know just don't fucking know. at all. and trying to make them understand is so exhausting.

daddysskeeterchild, Community Member
9/25/08 11:06am

I too have been struggling with finding and keeping jobs. I have actualy begun to think maybe I'm just crazy. I don't know if we would be classified as disabled but I do know many others with the same disease and problems we are suffering. I am not ready to give in but I have got to do something soon because I am also a singlemom and have no means of supporting my children except a small child suport check every two weeks. I am at my wits end but also terrified of getting a job and not being able to keep it. Help me to understand this also!! I don't even have insurance to see the doctor so I am self medicating, (not illegal drugs!!!!), although my family doctor has been good enough to give me samples when he can. I worry that I am sending my children the wrong message by not working and worry when they won't listen or respect me due to my many moods. They are whats important to me.

itiswhatitis, Community Member
5/23/12 11:45am

well i got help where i live community care for seeing a doctor because i dont have insurance either look into programs they offer where you live with you having children i believe they will help you i have no children but i no truely something mentally is wrong with me thats why am going to see what doctor says try and get disability i wish you the best of luck god bless

andrea, Community Member
9/25/08 3:58pm

i think it is so hard to even live a normal life with bipolar and i have three kids that is so much more than just yourself it is truely hard and my meds dont really seem to work as well as they should and all i can do try to focus on my life one day at a time.

livin single, Community Member
9/25/08 4:18pm

I don't know the answer but I think that you should be. I have had more than 20+ jobs since I was 16, I am now 46. It is very had for me to keep a job.

Linda, Community Member
9/25/08 6:25pm

bipolar disorder

circmorton, Community Member
9/25/08 7:15pm

I dont know if it will help but I am bipolar as well and I take 1200mg of lithium and 400mg of Seroquel everyday. I am legally disabled and I recieve disability from ss. I guess you would have to apply for it to find out. you need your doctors to be behind you, they ask for your medical records from years back and you have to see one of their doctors to determine if you are disabled. I live in VA so I dont know if the procedures are different but thats what I had to do and they ask for alot of information. I hope that helps you. I had problems keeping a job and functioning in the workplace with being bipolar and having anxiety.

itiswhatitis, Community Member
5/23/12 11:35am

i havent been diganoised yet but i no i cant work around people on top of other things i will take youre advice after i go to doctor today i will see what he says but i have the symptons of bi polar i have been with and without a jobs for years 

brinalynn1973, Community Member
9/26/08 12:16pm

I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in 2002. I applied for disability in January of 2003 and recieved my check in June of 2003. I suppose it all depends on the severity of your disorder as there are many levels to being Bipolar. I will tell you this, if you apply for disability then you need to make sure that you have the doctor that diagnosed you as well as your therapist, reports with you. If you havent kept a journal regarding your ups and downs, I would recommend that you start one and turn that in with your application for disability. I hope this helps you.

Eman941, Community Member
10/ 9/12 4:31am

did u need attorney?Did u go to ss doc for evaluation?I"ve filed and i'm going to there doc in 10 days from now,I've been crazy since mid teens and on meds.last twenty years. Should I get attorney or keep all the money myself ?If any one cares to shed light to my questions please help.I'm 41 and live in FL

bdoll1971, Community Member
9/27/08 2:39pm

Am i legally disabled if I am bi-polar

Irishduds2, Community Member
9/28/08 1:05am

I have heard that you could file for Disability if you suffer from Bipolar Disorder.  However, personally I chose not to do so because I found that the amount of money that would be paid to me by the government isn't enough to survive on.  Let alone the fact that I will be able to make a good bit more than I do know when I get my Bachelor's degree.


In other words, yes, you could be declared legally disabled if you're diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.  But being a University Student you shoud be motivated to do much more than just surviving and barely getting by on a disability check.


With that said, the only other thing to take into consideration is how severe your symptoms are.  If you are severely incapacitated by your symptoms to the point that you have to take some heavy medications that leave you listless than you may be in a situation where you should seriously consider going about getting on Disability.


So, I guess it depends on you.  If you feel that you can't cope with daily stress (even with your meds) than maybe you should be on disability.  However, if you are able to lead a somewhat normal life while on your meds than you should continue with your University classes, and shoot for a degree, and a career, and forget about disability.


I hope this helps.



Pamela G, Willis, Community Member
10/12/08 12:00pm

I was diagonsed with bipolar and anxiety disorder over 4 years ago and have had difficulty with employment issues, friendships, focus, distraction, memory, irritability, and reverting back to depression.  I take xanax XR, prestiq, lamictal, and seroquel.  It has helped a lot but still some things that are probably simple inconveniences to most people can become major obstacles to me and the general population doesn't get it or understand it.  I wish that people who don't have it would try to educate theirselve about it, especially if they know of anyone who has it, rather than alienating those who have it from themselves.  It's not our fault.  We didn't ask to have this affliction anymore than anyone asks for cancer.  I have been told by my therapist that it is recognized as a disability.  There are programs that offer help but I would need to look them up again.  DEAP is a disability program (I forget what the E & the A stand for).  I applied for supplemental disability but apparently Social Security doesn't think it is significant enough to qualify for assistance.

Bonnie, Community Member
10/21/08 8:33pm

If your doctor would be able to write you a letter stating do to your illness you can not work or perform activities of daily living without assistance then you can be declared legally disabled and recieve benefits. However if you can function on your own then you need to find some kind of program that will re-teach you how to cope and perform ADL's without assistance. You can find these programs through the mental health division of your local Health Department or hospital.

Alfreda, Community Member
11/13/08 7:31pm

If you cannot find and keep a job, then, yes you are considered diabled.


Your nest step is to apply for Social Security Disability and don't get discouraged if you are not approved for disablity the first time you apply.  Most people are denied and have to apply again, sometimes they have to hire an Attorney who specializes in disability cases.


You cxan go online at to apply for disability and should also discuss this with your doctor or Case Manager and good luck.




jimmy, Community Member
4/ 4/09 5:58am



                             i feel much beter now . . .kinda.Undecided

TINKERTOT, Community Member
5/13/09 7:46pm


Starlene, Community Member
5/26/10 9:39am

I am 32 yrs old and just recently have had to apply for disability benefits.  I have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, panic disorder, and severe anxiety.  I am terrified of leaving my house, and i didnt find out about the panic disorder untill i went to the hospital thinking i was having a heart attack that was a panic attack.  Now my anxiety is worse because of waiting to hear if i am approved.  I have been told i wont get benefits by family.  And i have been told that i will get benefits by other family members.  My illness dates back to when i was 14 yrs old.  I believe if your bipolar is as severe as mine is then yes you are considered disabled.  I hate living my life like this.  Just about a week ago my husband had to hold me down and take a razor out of my hand cause i was going to cut my wrists.  THis was after he had to kick in our door.  SOmetimes i feel that life would be easier without me here.  As for keeping or getting a job.  I couldnt imagine going into a place of work right now.  Besides no one will hire me.  My work record is awful.  I have had over 20 jobs since i started working at 16. Remember i am only 32. DO you think i qualify?  Bet they turn me down....

cameronx, Community Member
4/18/13 8:48pm

I also have been diagnosed with bipolar, anxiety disorder, and panick attacks.  I have always worked until now.  I have always lost jobs too.  I would be promoted to lead person because I would be wound up, and then be fired for lack of performance.  I just knew I couldn't make myself do what ever my job was at that time because of severe depression.  I understand the terrible job record.  I'll tell you to get an attorney.  Getting an attorney won't convince a doctor with around 13 years of training that you're bipolar, but if you really can't work, they know how to use the doctor's records, ect.  I'm not going to defend a mental illness against the opinions of people not qualified to make a diagnosis in the field.  That would just be a waste of time.  Just don't give up, and don't blame yourself for the anger, depression, and other mood swings.  If you had no legs, nobody would expect you to get up and walk.  You shouldn't either.  Good luck.

Donna-1, Community Member
12/13/10 8:57pm

You may qualify as "legally disabled" because of bipolar disorder if it substantially reduces your ability to participate in daily life activities such as being unable to handle your own money, being too unstable to perform nominal job duties, having substantial negative side effects from bipolar medication(s), being unable to take care of yourself in such matters as dressing, bathing, negotiating bus routes, etc.  Of course you may think bipolar wouldn't result in these "disabilities" but depression can substantially alter what you are able to do on a daily basis.  And mania can cause interpersonal disputes on the job or indiscretion concerning budgeting of company funds as well as whether you can safely drive a company vehicle.  All sorts of things come into play.


Ultimately, if you are in the U.S., someone from Social Security gets to decide if you are disabled, based on information from your doctor, therapist, associates, friends, past employers, etc.  Seeing as how the Privacy Act severely limits what information can be parsed out (at times) it is a wonder they can get access to the facts enough to make a valid decision.  And many people fight initial denial of SSDI benefits and go on to win.

lachiebheag, Community Member
3/14/12 1:27pm

Thankyou very much for your comment.In the UK we have an unusual system.Even if your doctor says you are unfit to work,the government body,The Department for Work and Pensions employ a private assessor,ATOS Healthcare to reassess your case.Nationally this company has been discredited as being at best inept,at worst corrupt.They ignore all medical advice from your healthcare professionals,and refuse your claim for Disability Living Allowance.My brother is terminally ill from cancer,with probably 6-12 months to live.He takes 15 different meds,has a paralyzed leg,embolisms on his lungs,is on morphine,tired and in immense pain all the time.Yet he has been assessed by ATOS as fit for work.Nationally this company has been dismissed from Local Health Authority management consultancy contracts for their inneptude.Consequently I dont think my chances of getting DLA are very high.I have my medical in early April.Fingers crossed! 


heyitsme, Community Member
12/17/10 1:53am

I am by no means a  "Go getter."  No need to mock me.  I was simply stating that not everyone who is bipolar applies for disability.  And, not everyone who has bipolar goes around announcing it to the world, which honestly, really wouldn't be a bad thing.  Maybe if people were more open about it, people would be more informed, and wouldn't be ignorant, arrogant, asses like you.  But, see, it's a viscous circle...people don't talk about it, cuz of people like you.  And, people are like you, because people don't talk about it.

Nice job on winning your can something like this even hold up in court?  How would they know that you didn't just create a few different accounts and comment yourself......this couldn't really be valid.....everybody is different.  I would think the only thing that could hold up is a mental evaluation.  A psychologist should be smart enough to tell if she's faking it.  But, whatever.....

itiswhatitis, Community Member
5/23/12 11:19am

i to am having problems holding down a fulltime job any job where i have to work around people i have partime job in pms cleaning i dont work around people i am going to doctor today to find out whats wrong with me will i be able to get disability for mental illness cause people i talk to tell me you have to be out of work for more than i year but i have only had partime jobs for more than a year

samantha, Community Member
12/ 3/12 12:55pm

Hello. I'm 18 years old I have had bi-polar all my life and only just recently been diagnosed with it. I know I don't know if u c or not. I would Just really like someone to talk to. :( please don't want to go through this on my own! 286A0CD5 aAdd me on bLackberry messager please!

xena, Community Member
4/17/14 5:13am

I'm at my wits end here too people. I'm only 35 I've struggled keeping jobs since 15 .I've had 40 jobs.  It's so stressful, I get so nervous around people too. But in my manic phases I'm friendly, creative, can't sleep good.  My Dr said I shouldn't work. I even called a top ssdi ssd lawyer: I was gonna start the official paperwork. Lucky me, I got hired at PT job. Now I got a full-time one lined up.... But then im like how am I gonna live for a year waiting to be approved?  With no money? I'm stuck and feel trapped.  I hope things get better and I can handle the stress of a full time job. I would never tell employer because one time I did and somone told everyone =( I'm just gonna be positive ,and fake it till I make it.  Blah

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We hope you find this general health information helpful. Please note however, that this Q&A is meant to support not replace the professional medical advice you receive from your doctor. No information in the Answers above is intended to diagnose or treat any condition. The views expressed in the Answers above belong to the individuals who posted them and do not necessarily reflect the views of Remedy Health Media. Remedy Health Media does not review or edit content posted by our community members, but reserves the right to remove any material it deems inappropriate.

By RichardS, Community Member— Last Modified: 04/17/14, First Published: 09/22/08