Bipolar Disorder, On Medical Leave, When should you file for disability?
A woman in a forum recently mentioned the situation of her husband, a person with bipolar disorder who is on medical leave from work. She stated that she is unsure as to when he will be allowed to return to work, or even if he will be. Her question was this: given the particulars of his situation, when should he file for disability?
There is a general answer for questions related to work and when to file for disability. Which is simply that a person should file for disability when their condition, mental or physical, becomes severe enough that it results in functional limitations that either preclude the ability to engage in work (past work or some form of other work), or limits the ability to work and earn at least SGA, or substantial gainful activity.
However, that answer is not sufficient for this particular question. Being a former disability examiner and NOT a former claims rep (claims reps are the individuals who process social security retirement and disability claims in social security offices while examiner make medical decisions on SSD and SSI cases), I decided to pass this question to a CR (claims rep).
And here's the answer I got back. An individual who is on medical leave from their job due to bipolar disorder or any condition needs to file for disability as soon as they leave their job. This is regardless of whether their medical leave from work is paid, or unpaid.
In other words, gross monthly earnings are not an issue in this instance because the individual who is disabled and unable to perform the requirements of his work is not at work.
So, if you go out on medical leave from your job, whether your medical leave is paid or unpaid, get your application for disability filed immediately. Waste no time whatsoever. Because as I've said so many times, the disability process, which includes for most claimants both applying and appealing (following a denial), can be a very long ordeal.
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