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I have Bipolar depression, do I qualify for SSDI?

Illinois Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., as our readers may have heard, is currently away from his work in order to deal with mental illness. According to the Mayo Clinic, where Jackson is being treated, he has Bipolar type II, a form of the illness marked by depressive and hypomanic episodes. Because the manic phases of the illness are milder than those in Bipolar type I, it often takes longer to diagnose.

Bipolar depression can be a significant barrier to living a normal life, having normal relationships, and have a normal work life. While treatment can help manage the condition, there can still be struggles for those who suffer with it. As with injuries and other types of illness, supporting oneself can be a challenge for those struggling with bipolar depression.

The Social Security Administration does, however, consider bipolar to be an impairment covered by Social Security Disability. As with any other SSDI application, there are specific criteria one must meet in terms of diagnosis and severity of the condition. The Social Security Administration provides two sets of criteria for bipolar.

Either of these sets of eligibility requirements needs to be satisfied by providing appropriate documentation. Knowing what types of documentation are best for presenting a strong application can be difficult, and an experienced SSDI attorney can be a huge asset.

It isn't clear at this point how Rep. Jackson's bipolar will affect his ability to return to his duties, particularly with him facing reelection this fall.

Source: Associated Press, "Patrick Kennedy: Rep. Jackson in 'deep' depression," Michelle R. Smith & Sophia Tareen, August 17, 2012

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