Many people were dismayed by a Fox Business News contributor who recently suggested that a bipolar disorder diagnosis basically is nothing more than a scam that people use to obtain Social Security disability benefits.

Fox News Radio host Tom Sullivan made the comments after a caller to his show informed him that she suffered from bipolar disorder. Sullivan replied by telling the caller that her illness was “something made up by the mental health business” and just “the latest fad.”

Soon after he made his comments, the MediaMatters watchdog organization weighed in with a blog article that highlights numerous facts about the serious issue of mental disorders.

For instance, MediaMatters quoted the American Psychological Association’s definition of bipolar disorder as “a serious mental illness in which common emotions become intensely and often unpredictably magnified … [causing individuals to] … quickly swing from extremes of happiness, energy and clarity to sadness, fatigue and confusion.” Suicide, according to the APA, becomes a risk due to the person’s condition.

In the article, MediaMatters also quotes the National Institute of Mental Health, which states that “bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness” which, if left untreated, “can lead to damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide.”

MediaMatters goes on to quote additional sources that say the type of statements about mental health and disability benefits made by people such as Sullivan and even some politicians cause too many people to feel stigmatized.

As a result, individuals with serious mental illness may be too afraid to seek the assistance they need and deserve.

Individuals with Mental Disorders Deserve Benefits

The reality is that there is a good reason why the Social Security Administration (SSA) specifically lists mental disorders among disabilities that qualify one for benefits, including affective disorders like bipolar syndrome.

However, as with other disorders and disabilities, the process of obtaining benefits due to a mental disorder can be extremely challenging. In contrast to Sullivan’s claim, it is not a process that a person can “game.”

As the SSA states, an applicant seeking these benefits must provide “documentation of a medically determinable impairment, consideration of the degree of limitation such impairment may impose on the individual’s ability to work, and consideration of whether these limitations have lasted or are expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months.”

Furthermore, it should be pointed out that the overall rate of SSD claim denials was about 59 percent from 2003 to 2012, according to SSA statistics.

At Frank M. Eidson, P.A., we know from our own work with clients suffering from mental and physical disabilities that the process can often be difficult and very frustrating.

Dealing with the SSA’s application process can be particularly challenging for someone who has cognitive or emotional difficulties – especially after an initial claim has been denied (which happens about 75 percent of the time).

This is why we believe it is crucial for anyone seeking Social Security disability benefits to get help from an experienced legal professional.

To learn more about SSD benefits, you can contact us by phone or online. We would be glad to discuss the process in a free and confidential consultation.


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