Eligible for Disability Benefits?
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Q:  Eligible for Disability Benefits?

I have been unable to work for over a year now since I ave been diagnosed...do you think that I would be elgible for social security income benefits? Is bi-polar even considered as a serious mental illness?

Dear Tiffanie -- 
Bipolar disorder is indeed a serious illness, and a few of my patients are on disability because of it.  However, in general I try to help them avoid arriving there if at all possible, because life is never the same -- for example, what's possible for others, like "having a normal life" -- is no longer possible once you cross that bridge (I think coming back across the bridge and sustaining yourself with your own work is an extremely rare event, you see).  Most people seem to me to be much more satisfied with life if they try to keep working.  There's  a strong risk of becoming "professionally ill" because of the incentives built into being "disabled".   So (not knowing your circumstances) I'd encourage you to explore all possible alternatives (like trials of different medications until you've tried almost all the usuals, including combinations thereof) before you apply for social security disability. 

Dr. Phelps  

Published September, 2001


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