Can You Get Disability for Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)?
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:
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.
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:
Distrust and suspiciousness of others
Detachment from social relationships
Disregard for and violation of the rights of others
B. You’re extremely limited in at least one of the following areas or markedly limited in two or more:
Your ability to understand, remember, or apply information
Your ability to interact with others
Your ability to concentrate, persist in an activity, or maintain a consistent work pace
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?
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 about $1,400 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.)
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 $3,627 for SSDI and $914 for SSI in 2023.
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.
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