If you are like the estimated 2.6 percent of American adults (6.1 million people) who live and struggle with bipolar disorder you may have found it difficult to maintain employment.
Those with bipolar struggle with elevated moods, referred to as mania, which can include feelings of increased self-esteem, little sleep, distractibility, and increased risky behaviors. Periods of mania are countered with long period of depression which can include insomnia, fatigue, loss of energy, a feeling of hopelessness, pessimism, loss of appetite, and lack of focus.
Treatment and cause of bipolar disorder
Unfortunately, the medical community is not sure what causes bipolar disorder, but there is a consensus that it may have a genetic component because it seems to run in families. If you are suffering from bipolar it is important to get help which can include medication and psychosocial treatment.
Work and Bipolar Disorder
The good news is that federal laws protect Americans from disabilities from discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This means that if you are diagnosed with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, such as bipolar disorder, it is likely you will qualify for protection under the ADA. If this is the case, you may also qualify for accommodation by your employer.
So before deciding whether or not you can work your current job you may be able to ask for several accommodations which may make it easier for you to work. For example, you may be able to ask for a more flexible schedule, more frequent work breaks, time off for counseling, telecommuting, a self-paced work load, a private office, a division of large assignments into smaller tasks and goals, or a restructured job to include only essential functions.
Remember, employers are not always required to make accommodations. Talk to your employer if you have questions about how to modify your work schedule to accommodate your disability.
Can I get SSDI benefits?
Unfortunately, some claimants who suffer with bipolar disorder will not be able to maintain employment, regardless of the modifications their employer is willing to make. To qualify for SSDI benefits claimants must have a condition which is so severe that they cannot work for at least 12 continuous months. Claimants must also have sufficient work credits to qualify for SSDI benefits. Claimants also cannot be working or making too much money when they apply for benefits. Claimants may be found disabled for bipolar disorder if they are unable to maintain employment for at least 12 continuous months.
To make this determination the SSA will determine if their condition meets or exceeds listing 12.04 Affective disorders in the SSA listing of Impairments. For more information about whether or not your bipolar disorder is severe enough to qualify for SSDI you can discuss your condition with your doctor. If you have not been able to see a doctor it is important to remember that getting great medical care will be critical to winning benefits.
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