Q:

What does the disability examiner look for when evaluating patients for bipolar disorder and PTSD?

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One of the first things that disability examiners look at when evaluating patients for bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder is whether the patient has existing medical documentation of the conditions, such as a diagnosis by a psychiatrist or psychologist, according to Nolo. Taking medication designed to treat bipolar disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder without an official diagnosis may not qualify.

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Patients with little or no medical documentation may still qualify if they undergo a consultative examination, notes Nolo. A consultative exam is a session designed to evaluate the patient's current mental state. The specific process varies depending on the condition, but the evaluator may give tests designed to test the patient's ability to remember basic information. The patient may also need to discuss his history, childhood and symptoms. The Social Security Administration pays for consultative exams.

To qualify for disability benefits, the disease must prevent the patient from working, learning or otherwise functioning normally, explains Social Security Disability Help. Patients who do not comply with doctors' orders, such as taking medication, or who abuse drugs or alcohol may also have trouble getting approved, reports Nolo. There is no requirement that the patient has to be unable to function every day, but people who have some good days and some bad days may have more trouble getting approved.

Disability examiners also look for people who fake or exaggerate their symptoms, according to Nolo. Applicants should always be honest and try to do their best on any tests or exams.

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