If the bipolar disorder disability is severe enough to "significantly limit one’s ability to perform basic work activities" needed to do most jobs, then you may qualify. I recommend that you hire an attorney to assist.
If your bipolar disorder is severe enough to have required three hospital commitments, I would say you have a strong argument that you cannot hold down a full time job. I would strongly recommend hiring an experienced Social Security disability attorney because among other things, it is likely that you would encounter problems getting your mental health providers to give you medical records you will need to build and argue your case. Please don't let your fear of being denied benefits keep you from getting started. You certainly won't get benefits if you don't apply. I wish you the best of luck and hope you will consult with an attorney soon to help you get your case started.
It is impossible to give specific answers to questions without meeting and fully discussing all of the potential issues that may not be addressed by your question. The answer(s) provided should be considered general information and are not legal advice. Viewing this information is not intended to create, and does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. The answer provided is intended to educate you and point to issues for you to raise in a consultation with a lawyer. You should not take any action that might affect your claim(s) without first seeking the professional opinion of a licensed attorney.
I would suggest contacting a local Social Security Disability attorney to discuss your case. Mental health claims can be more difficult to win than others, so make sure the attorney has a lot of experience with those cases. You can use the "Find a Lawyer" tab here at Avvo or got to www.nosscr.org to search.
Typically the attorney is paid only if you win your case, and is paid 25% of your back award with a current cap of $6000. In my opinion you absolutely need to have representation -- especially for a mental health claim.
Best of luck to you!
Attorney Inga Stevens is licensed in Maine. She provides general information on Avvo.com. No attorney-client relationship arises out of the information given here.
Step 1 - apply. tell the SS office about all your conditions (so if you have something in addition to bipolar, add that too). tell them about all your doctors, meds, etc. if denied, go to step 2 - which is contacting a lawyer immediately to appeal. you only have 60 days to appeal, so do not let the time pass.
given your age, there is a very good chance you will be denied at first. but persistence and the help of a good lawyer has a very good chance of paying off in the end.
Don't let fear prevent you from applying. Apply immediately, with the assistance of a lawyer if that will help you apply. If you apply on your own and are denied, contact a lawyer immediately to assist you with the appeal within the 60 day timeframe.
Mental health, just like physical health, can keep an individual from maintaining a regular work schedule. Social Security does recognize mental health disorders, especially bipolar disorder, as an impairment that could keep an individual from retaining a job. But since mental health diagnosis can be very subjective, it is very important that you back your claim up with consistent treatment by a psychologist or psychiatrist, or even your primary care physician if you cannot afford a mental health specialist. If you do not feel overwhelmed with the initial application process, then you can apply on your own and then hire an attorney once you are denied. An attorney can then handle the appeals process for you. However, do not take it personal if you are denied at first since the vast majority of applicants, regardless of their impairments, are initially denied.
Best of luck!