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.
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.
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.
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:
Learn more about conditions that qualify for disability.
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.
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:
B. You’re extremely limited in at least one of the following areas or markedly limited in two or more:
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.
If you answer yes to the following questions, you may be able to qualify for disability:
Get more advice from our lawyers on applying for disability with a mental health condition.
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:
Consider waiting and applying later if:
Probably don’t apply if:
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.)
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.
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 $3,627 for SSDI and $914 for SSI in 2023.
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.
Borderline Personality Disorder
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder)
Rheumatoid Arthritis Schizophrenia
How long has your condition made it hard to work?
At the bottom of many websites, you'll find a small disclaimer: "We are not a law firm and are not qualified to give legal advice." If you see this, run the other way. These people can't help you: they're prohibited by law from giving meaningful advice, recommending specific lawyers, or even telling you whether you need a lawyer at all.
There’s no disclaimer here: Atticus is a law firm, and we are qualified to give legal advice. We can answer your most pressing questions, make clear recommendations, and search far and wide to find the right lawyer for you.
Two important things to note: If we give you legal advice, it will be through a lawyer on our staff communicating with you directly. (Don't make important decisions about your case based solely on this or any other website.) And if we take you on as a client, it will be through a document you sign. (No attorney-client relationship arises from using this site or calling us.)
Terms | Privacy | Disclaimer