Is Bipolar a Incapacity? Your FAQs

The American With Disabilities Act (ADA) is a law that helps people with disabilities achieve equal rights at work. Bipolar disorder is considered a disability under ADA, as is blindness or multiple sclerosis.

You may also be entitled to social security benefits if you cannot work. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has two programs that provide monthly income and health insurance to people who are unable to work due to a disability:

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is for those who have worked and paid social security taxes.
  • The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is aimed at people with limited incomes.

Read on to learn how ADA and Social Security can benefit you.

To be protected under the ADA, you must demonstrate that a disability such as bipolar disorder severely limits your ability to work. The ADA covers companies with 15 or more employees.

It can be more difficult to get social security benefits. You must have a disability and be part of a low income household or have worked for a specified number of years.

Not everyone with bipolar disorder is qualified. Around two thirds of the applications for disability benefits are initially rejected.

In order to receive social security benefits, the SSA will ask you to provide evidence of:

  • You have lived with bipolar disorder for at least 1 year
  • Your condition is severe enough to prevent you from doing your job or any other job
  • Your disability will last longer than a year

To qualify for SSDI, you must have worked in a job where you have paid social security taxes for a certain number of years.

The older you are, the more years you must have worked. A 42-year-old must have worked for 5 years while a 30-year-old only needs 2 years of work.

To qualify for SSI, you must earn less than a certain amount of money. This amount varies depending on the state. You also can’t have more than $ 2,000 in net worth ($ 3,000 if you’re married).

The ADA prevents disabled people from being discriminated against at work. Your company cannot cancel a job offer or fire you because you have bipolar disorder.

You need to be able to do the basic chores your job requires, but you can ask for accommodations. Accommodations are changes to your schedule or responsibilities that make your job easier.

Examples of accommodations for people with bipolar disorder include:

  • a flexible schedule
  • additional breaks during the day
  • a desk organizer or planner
  • Noise canceling headphones
  • Job coaching
  • a surrogate animal

Under the ADA, you also have a right to privacy. You don’t need to tell your employer that you have bipolar disorder unless you want to share that information.

You can get disability social security benefits if your bipolar disorder is severe enough that you can no longer work or if it limits your ability to do your job.

Whether you can work depends on how severe your bipolar disorder is and how much your symptoms affect your daily life.

Symptoms such as mood swings, irritability, and difficulty concentrating can make it harder to do a lot of work.

In general, people with bipolar disorder find it harder to work than people who don’t. Between 30 and 60 percent never return to work full-time after their symptoms start.

You may find it harder to work if you:

  • severe bipolar disorder
  • frequent episodes of mania and / or depression
  • constant low level depression
  • psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations or delusions

You will find it easier to keep a job when you find one you love and you have good support.

The ideal job for bipolar disorder is one that makes you feel happy and fulfilled.

In general, the best jobs for people with bipolar disorder:

  • are part-time and have a flexible schedule
  • offer a lot of support
  • have a quiet, calm environment
  • offer a way to be creative

A career counselor can help you find a job that suits you. Having bipolar disorder can qualify you for free professional rehabilitation benefits.

Both ADA and SSA view bipolar disorder as a disability. This qualifies you to receive additional protection and benefits under the law.

Talk to your doctor to start the process. You will need documents to show the government that bipolar disorder is affecting your ability to work.

To learn more about Social Security Disability Benefits, visit SSA.

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