Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Will I get disability with Bipolar Disorder ?

I came across an article recently that was titled "Will I get disability with severe bipolar disorder"? The article was written by a clinical social worker and was well intentioned. However, there is a glaring inaccuracy at the beginning of the article that I would like to point out and address (links about bipolar disorder and social security disability can be found at the end of this post).

The writer of the article stated that if an applicant has more than two thousand dollars in a retirement account (she used the example of an IRA), the applicant will be denied. This statement, unfortunately, is a good example of not understanding just how the social security administration's two separate disability programs actually work.

First of all, what are those two programs? The first is social security disability, provisioned under title II of the social security act. Social Security disability benefits are granted to individuals who, through their prior work activity, have A) become insured for benefits (this is why social security disability is often referred to as SSDI, or social security disability insurance) and B) have been determined to be disabled by SSA (by meeting the social security definition of disability).

For an individual to be approved for, and to receive, social security disability benefits, they must not be working and earning more than the earnings limit for a given year (this limit is known as: substantial gainful activity). However, for SSDI assets are irrelevant. Let me repeat---assets are not considered in any sense and an individual is not disqualified to receive benefits no matter how much they have in assets.

The second disability program that is administered by SSA is SSI disability. SSI is a need-based program and the earnings limits that apply to SSDI also apply to SSI. However, SSI is different from social security disability in one very important way. For SSI, there is an asset limit and that limit is set at two thousand dollars.

Individuals who apply for SSI cannot have more than $2,000.00 in countable assets. what are countable assets? Essentially, these are assets that are not considerable essential for daily use and living. For example, one's home and one's primary vehicle would not be considered countable assets. However, an additional home and an additional vehicle would be counted and their fair market value would be calculated to determine if they exceed the two thousand dollar limit, thus rendering a claim for SSI ineligible. Other examples of countable assets would include excess burial plots, excess funds in bank accounts, and cash value in life insurance policies.

Individuals with bipolar disorder, of course, can apply for either SSDI or SSI. Although, the determination as to which benefit is not up to the applicant. When a claimant files for disability at a social security office, SSA will determine whether or not the claimant is insured for social security disability, or, if not insured, must file for SSI disability instead.

Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog

The following links lead to information regarding Bipolar disorder, social security disability, and SSI.

Bipolar Disability
Bipolar Disorder, Social Security Disability and SSI, and alchol and drugs
Bipolar Disorder, ECT, Social Security Disability
Bipolar Disorder and Disability Benefits