Please don't be insulted by that comment, but the disclaimer needs to be there, up front.
That said, to answer your first question: a current, full blown manic episode is definitely a reason not to work... But full blown mania
is virtually never a chronic condition. A major depressive episode can potentially be a reason not to work, until it is at least partially resolved. Recurrent episodes of the above can potentially interfere with a person's ability to maintain employment, due to the recurrence of incapacity, so if the condition is unstable or untreated, it might/could potentially create a disability situation. That being said, the majority of patients with stabilized bipolar d/o who remain in treatment, manage to live fairly normal lives.
Now, here's some (hopefully useful) additional information: bipolar d/o is easily misdiagnosed, especially when someone simply has mood swings
that occurr over periods of only hours or days. Rapid cycling bipolar means at least 4 mood episodes per year, and there is no such thing as "ultra rapid cycling", so just in case that is the that kind of pattern being reported, i would recommend that you speak to a local expert about it... And you might also want to read my letter on the subject, which i've just been informed is being published in the february edition of "current psychiatry