According to the National Institute of Mental Health, bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. According to the National Institute of Mental Illness, nearly 83% of people diagnosed with bipolar disorder are classified as severe. And according to the Mayo Clinic, physical health problems that frequently occur with bipolar disorder are heart disease, thyroid problems, headaches, or obesity.
I represent a woman with bipolar disorder who became disabled when she was 34 years old. Her comorbid conditions included heart disease, thyroid problems, headaches, and obesity. ALJ Weiss found that she met the bipolar listing today, which means that he will be approving her application for Social Security Disability benefits.
The ALJ seemed persuaded by two factors. First, even though the claimant was relatively young, she had worked every year of her life since she was only 14 years old, and had continued to work through numerous hospitalizations. Second, the hospitalization records included the medical findings that supported the listing criteria. Frequently, ALJs are reluctant to find that a claimant meets the criteria of a mental listing when they come from progress notes of treating sources.
Even if bountiful and supportive reports and records are submitted from treating mental health providers, records from hospitalizations should always be sought for filing too. Hospital records usually do not include any information regarding functional limitations resulting from bipolar disorder. However, when hospital personnel make the same findings that treating providers observed, many ALJ’s consider the former’s medical information to be more objective.
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