OBJECTIVE: Although bipolar disorder is a major contributor to functional impairment worldwide, an independent impact of bipolar disorder and ageing on functioning has yet to be demonstrated. The objective of the present study was to evaluate the effect of bipolar disorder on age-related functional status using matched controls as a standard. METHOD: One-hundred patients with bipolar disorder and matched controls were evaluated for disability. Age-related effects controlled for confounders were cross-sectionally evaluated. RESULTS: Patients were significantly more impaired than controls. Regression showed effects for aging in both groups. The effect, size, however, was significantly stronger in patients. CONCLUSION: Bipolar disorder was an important effect modifier of the age impact on functioning. While a longitudinal design is needed to effectively demonstrate this different impact, this study further depicts bipolar disorder as a chronic and progressively impairing illness.