Friday, August 3, 2012

Bipolar Disorder: Qualifying for Disabilty Benefits & Income Support

Although more mentally ill people are qualifying for disability benefits than ever before, only a fraction of applicants get approved.

There are numerous ads on mental health sites (including mine) in which law firms offer their assistance to those seeking income support for mental health disability. These ads piqued my interest, and I began to wonder, would I qualify? What's involved in the application process? Do you need a lawyer to get approval? 

The main thing that I learned through my research is that getting disability benefits for mental illness is a complicated and often unsuccessful process. I still have more investigating to do, but, at this point, my recommendation to others is: 1. learn as much as possible through your own research, 2. get a free consultation from lawyer (or 2) who specializes in disability benefits. 

The following is a summary of what I learned, as well as several helpful links to additional information.

Mental Illness, Work and Income Support Programs 
That's the title of a 2009 study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry. Although the study is more than three years old, it did provide some interesting info, and is worth reading (Click here for the full article). 

In 1978, less than 2% of new disability awards were for mental illness. By 2005, 30% of new awards went to the mentally ill. That more recent statistic may sound promising, but still only a fraction of those who apply for benefits are approved. The application screening process is involved and requires substantial documentation to support the existence of disability. The study described three main types of assistance available: 

For help understanding the difference the difference between SSDI and SSI, see:

The following sites have useful information on what is involved in the screening process to qualify for social security disability income:
Do you have experience with disability benefits for your bipolar disorder? Please share your experience so that we can learn from each other!

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