January 20, 2019

The Functional Capacity Strategy

How to Win Your Bi Polar Disability Case Using the Functional Capacity Argument

What is Bi-Polar Disorder?

Bi-Polar disorder is also referred to as Manic-depressive illness and is a serious mental illness which not only affects the suffering individual but can negatively impact the lives of the family members and friends around them. Dramatic mood swings are one of the key characteristics of this type of mental disorder. The individual can go from being overly energetic and/or highly irritable to feeling hopeless and sad, and then back again. The “up” feeling is referred to as mania whereas the “down” feeling is called depression.

The disorder has been seen to run in families from one generation to the next, typically starting somewhere between their late adolescence to their early adult years. When you have bi-polar disorder, a number of serious consequences can result if the condition is not treated on a consistent basis. These include:

  • damaged or failed relationships
  • poor performance on the job or in school
  • suicide attempts or continual thoughts of suicide

Presenting your case using the Functional Capacity Argument

Although there are two other arguments for presenting your case – the Grid Rules or Listing Arguments – the Functional Capacity Argument is the most commonly used one by Social Security Disability attorneys. SSA law judges are qualified to hear functional capacity arguments pertaining to your bi-polar disorder disability case. A good adjudicator or judge will take into consideration how your condition has affected you and your ability to perform your job.

Conversely, disability adjudicators or judges review and evaluate your bi-polar disorder disability case during the initial application process as well as any reconsideration hearings that may arise through a denial of SSDI benefits. They will be looking to see if there is hard evidence to support that you have what is called a “listing level” impairment. Unfortunately, these adjudicators or judges are not authorized or trained to make functional capacity evaluations, so the burden of proof is up to you.

One of the ways that your Social Security Disability attorney can help you is by developing what is called a functional capacity checklist for your physician or specialist to fill out. This is known as an RFC or residual functional capacity form and it is one of the most important medical documents involved in presenting your bi-polar disorder disability case. Your attorney can develop this checklist so that you can present it to your physician or specialist to fill out with proper language regarding your condition.