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Conditions that qualify for disability

Can You Get Disability for Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)?

Written by
Jackie Jakab, Disability Attorney
Jackie Jakab
Lead Attorney
February 8, 2023  ·  4 min read

Borderline personality disorder, or BPD, is just one of many mental health conditions that can interfere with work. In 2021, the Social Security Administration (SSA) awarded monthly disability benefits and healthcare to more than 1 million workers who have BPD or other related depressive and bipolar disorders.

To help you find out whether you may be eligible, we’ll explain how the SSA defines BPD, when it can qualify for benefits, and how to apply for disability to help with your borderline personality disorder.


Is borderline personality disorder a disability?

Yes. According to the SSA, borderline personality disorder can qualify as a disability when it interferes with your job and makes it impossible for you to work.

How the SSA defines borderline personality disorder

Borderline personality disorder is a mental health disorder that can make it difficult for people to regulate their emotions. People with BPD often struggle with unstable relationships, managing behavior, and even their own self-image, all of which can interfere with the daily activities and responsibilities that work requires.

When evaluating BPD, the SSA looks for symptoms like recurring outbursts, attention-seeking behaviors, and detachment in social relationships.

Common types of borderline personality disorder

There are four types of borderline personality disorder. The type of BPD you have can impact how the disorder shows up in your daily life, but any of these types can qualify you for disability benefits:

  • Discouraged borderline personality disorder

  • Impulsive borderline personality disorder

  • Petulant borderline

  • Self-destructive borderline

Learn more about conditions that qualify for disability.


Can you get disability for BPD?

It is possible to get Social Security disability for borderline personality disorder. But like most mental health conditions, the SSA has strict criteria for BPD and it can be difficult to qualify.

So even though BPD is a disability, the SSA may be more likely to approve your claim if you have another qualifying condition. For example, many people with BPD also struggle with anxiety, complex PTSD, or depression, all of which can also qualify for disability.

Ultimately, you’ll need extensive medical evidence that your BPD meets all SSA criteria. Working with an experienced disability lawyer can also increase your odds of approval.

We've helped 343 people with mental illness win benefits.

Criteria for getting disability with borderline personality disorder

The SSA has extensive criteria for all mental health conditions, including borderline personality disorder. To qualify, you’ll have to prove that your BPD is persistent, ongoing, and makes it impossible for you to hold a job.

When you apply, the SSA will verify that you meet the conditions listed under both A and B below.

A. You have medical documentation showing a pervasive pattern of at least one of the following:

  1. Distrust and suspiciousness of others

  2. Detachment from social relationships

  3. Disregard for and violation of the rights of others

  4. Instability of interpersonal relationships

  5. Excessive emotionality and attention seeking

  6. Feelings of inadequacy

  7. Excessive need to be taken care of

  8. Preoccupation with perfectionism and orderliness

  9. Recurrent, impulsive, aggressive behavioral outbursts

AND

B. You’re extremely limited in at least one of the following areas or markedly limited in two or more:

  1. Your ability to understand, remember, or apply information

  2. Your ability to interact with others

  3. Your ability to concentrate, persist in an activity, or maintain a consistent work pace

  4. Your ability to adapt or manage yourself

Note that for the criteria in section B, the SSA defines extreme limitation as an inability to function “independently, appropriately, effectively, and on a sustained basis.” People with marked limitations can still function independently but at a reduced or inconsistent capacity.

Questions to ask yourself before applying

If you answer yes to the following questions, you may be able to qualify for disability:

  • Are you seeing a psychiatrist? Have you been seeing them for at least a few months?

  • Have you been hospitalized for your BPD?

  • Are you suspicious of others?

  • Do you experience instability in your relationships?

  • Do you struggle to manage your emotions or behaviors?

  • Is it difficult for you to interact with others?

Get more advice from our lawyers on applying for disability with a mental health condition.


My borderline personality disorder meets the criteria. Now what?

If your borderline personality disorder meets the criteria, you can apply for Social Security disability benefits as soon as you’re able. You can apply even if you’re unsure you’ll qualify. The application is long but as long as you answer truthfully, there’s no penalty for applying.

Here’s what we suggest if you’re still unsure whether or not to apply:

Apply now if:

  • You have been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder AND

  • Your condition hasn’t improved even though you’ve received treatment AND

  • You struggle to manage your emotions and behaviors AND

  • You have difficulty independently completing tasks

Consider waiting and applying later if:

  • You have borderline personality disorder but your doctor thinks your symptoms will improve within the next year OR

  • Your borderline personality disorder is manageable and doesn’t interfere with your work, even if you worry it soon will

Probably don’t apply if:

  • Your borderline personality disorder isn’t stopping you from working even though it can be difficult to manage OR

  • You’re working and earning more than $1,550 per month

You can also take our free 2-minute disability quiz to find out whether or not you’ll qualify before you apply. If you do qualify, we can connect you with a vetted disability lawyer for free. (You will need to pay your lawyer if you win disability benefits.)

Which type of benefits should you apply for?

The SSA offers two different benefits programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The program you qualify for can impact how much money you receive each month.

If you have a long work history — typically five of the last 10 years — you should apply for SSDI. If you don’t have many assets or monthly income, you should apply for SSI. The programs also share an application, so you can apply for both to see which offers the best benefits for your situation. It’s also possible to receive SSDI and SSI benefits at the same time.


How much is a disability check for borderline personality disorder?

The average disability check for borderline personality disorder and similar mental health conditions is $1,232.97 per month.

Your monthly benefit won’t vary based on your condition, but your work history, income history, and the benefits program you qualify for can all impact your actual check size. The maximum disability benefit is $3,822 for SSDI and $943 for SSI in 2024.

Estimate your disability benefit amount in just a few steps

We'll use the Social Security Administration's formula to estimate your monthly benefit.

Average
monthly check

$1,489


What if my borderline personality disorder doesn’t meet the criteria?

You can still apply. Even if your borderline personality disorder doesn’t meet the criteria, applying may still be worth it if you can’t work because of your disorder. The key is to make sure you can provide medical documentation — like test results and treatment program results — showing that your BPD interferes with your ability to work.

It’s also important to remember that qualifying for disability is difficult even if you struggle to hold a job. Only 20% of applicants get approved on their initial application. But stick with it! After a couple of rounds of appeal, you can state your case in front of a judge, and more than half of applicants get approved at this stage. Applicants with a disability lawyer are also three times more likely to get approved for benefits.

Still unsure what your next steps should be? Read our step-by-step guide to applying for disability to learn more about the application process.

Whether or not you apply, if you need financial assistance, also check out these helpful resources for people with disabilities.

See if your borderline personality disorder qualifies for disability.

Other conditions that can qualify for disability:

Alzheimer's

Anemia

Anxiety

Arthritis

Asthma

Autism

Back pain

Bipolar disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder

Brain tumor

Breast cancer

Cancer

Carpal tunnel

Colostomy bag

Coma/Vegetative States

COPD

Crohn's disease

Depression

Diabetes

Dialysis

Epilepsy

Fibromyalgia

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

Insomnia

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Kidney disease

Long Covid

Lupus

Mental illness

Migraines

Narcolepsy

OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder)

Panic disorder

Parkinson's

Peripheral neuropathy

PTSD

Rheumatoid Arthritis Schizophrenia

Sciatica

Sickle cell

Ulcerative colitis

See all conditions


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Jackie Jakab, Disability Attorney

Jackie Jakab

Lead Attorney

Jackie Jakab is Atticus’s Legal Director. She’s a licensed attorney, a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, and has counseled thousands of people seeking disability benefits.
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