Disability Benefits for Depression and Bipolar Disorder

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Maladies such as depression and bipolar disorder may be written off by some as “only psychological”, but they are very real to the people afflicted with them. Moreover, either one of these conditions can degrade or even completely cripple your ability to work if they are severe enough. Under certain limited circumstances you might be eligible for disability benefits on this basis.

Depression vs Bipolar Disorder

Clinical depression is more than just “the blues.” You may experience symptoms of sadness, poor concentration, low energy, insomnia, early morning awakenings and suicidal thoughts. Clinical depression lasts more than a day or two — in fact, it can persist for years if you are unresponsive to medication.

If you have bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic depressive disorder, you will experience periods of depression alternating with “manic episodes” marked by an abundance of energy, euphoria, rapid speech, optimistic delusions and irrational risk-taking. Both of these stages are dangerous, and both can lead to death — one by suicide, the other typically by accident after taking an irrational risk.

Mere Diagnosis is Not Enough to Qualify You for Benefits

Unfortunately, a diagnosis of depression or bipolar disorder is not enough on its own to qualify you for disability benefits. Under Kentucky law, a psychological disorder can only qualify you for disability benefits if it is the direct result of physical injury.

Kentucky courts, however, have sometimes bent over backwards to accommodate claimants under such circumstances. If you are an emergency medical technician who is experiencing job-related depression, for example, physical contact with your patients might be enough to win your disability claim. Nevertheless, a tough uphill battle may lie in front of you. Efforts are currently underway in the Kentucky state legislature (2019) to clarify the law on this matter.

The Social Security Disability Listing

Assuming that you can get past the “physical injury” legal barrier, you must prove not only the existence of your condition, but also that it affects your ability to work. You may qualify for disability benefits under the Social Security disability listing if you have suffered from your disorder for at least two years despite the support of medication, and if:

you have difficulty performing basic work activities even with treatment and medication;
your condition leads to periodic, persistent periods of increased severity of symptoms, or
your condition is so fragile that even a slight increase in mental demands would cause your symptoms to significantly increase in severity.

Proving Your Disability

To buttress your claim, you will need detailed medical records. The longer your treatment history, the better your chances will be. A letter from your doctor attesting to the existence and severity of your disability, and to the extent possible, its effect on your ability to work, would also be helpful. Be sure to always follow your doctor’s instructions to the letter, to avoid being denied disability benefits on the premise that your symptoms are partly your fault.

The Time to Act is Now

The longer you wait to prepare and properly file a disability claim, the more doubts will be raised about its authenticity, and the less likely you will be to receive full benefits. Furthermore, the workers’ compensation system can look like an insoluble maze, especially to people who are already struggling with a mood disorder

Call Kentucky disability lawyer Glenn Martin Hammond at (606) 437-7777, or fill out our online client intake form, to schedule a free consultation. Your legal bill will be zero unless we win your claim.

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