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Is Schizophrenia a Disability?

Yes, schizophrenia is considered a disability. It can significantly impair a person’s ability to function in daily life, including their capacity to work, maintain relationships, and carry out self-care activities.

Schizophrenia can cause psychosis and may be one of the reasons to affect various life areas such as personal, social, family, occupational, and educational functioning. It may be easier for applicants above 50 to pursue disability benefits.

What is Schizophrenia?

schizophrenia social security disability

Schizophrenia is a serious, ongoing psychological disorder that typically plagues sufferers with the inability to lead a normal lifestyle. Emotional and mental issues that are connected to schizophrenia may make sufferers unable to work a job. 

Some conditions along the Schizophrenia spectrum are:

What are the Symptoms of Schizophrenia?

Some of the symptoms of Schizophrenia are as follows:

  • Positive symptoms: These symptoms refer to experiences or behaviors that are added to a person’s normal functioning. Examples include hallucinations (perceiving things that are not there, such as hearing voices), delusions (holding false beliefs despite evidence to the contrary), disorganized thinking (difficulty organizing thoughts and expressing them coherently), and disorganized speech (incoherent or tangential speech patterns).
  • Negative symptoms: These symptoms involve a reduction or absence of normal functions. They can include a lack of emotional expression or reduced range of emotions (blunted affect), reduced motivation and interest in daily activities, decreased ability to initiate and sustain activities (avolition), social withdrawal and isolation, and diminished speech output (alogia).
  • Cognitive symptoms: Schizophrenia can also impact cognitive functioning, resulting in difficulties with memory, attention, concentration, and problem-solving. Cognitive impairments can significantly impact a person’s ability to perform tasks that require thinking and reasoning.
  • Onset and course: Although it can occur at any age, schizophrenia typically emerges in late adolescence or early adulthood. The course of the illness varies for each individual, with some experiencing a single episode followed by periods of remission, while others may have a chronic and persistent course with ongoing symptoms.
  • Impact on daily functioning: Schizophrenia can significantly impact various aspects of a person’s life, including their ability to work, study, maintain relationships, and perform daily activities. The severity and nature of the symptoms can vary, and the level of functional impairment can also differ among individuals.

Types of Schizophrenia

Some of the types of schizophrenia are:

  • Paranoid Type: This subtype is characterized by prominent delusions and auditory hallucinations. People with paranoid schizophrenia often experience grandiose or persecutory delusions and may have a heightened sense of self-importance or suspicion of others.
  • Disorganized Type: This subtype is characterized by disorganized thinking, speech, and behavior. Individuals may exhibit incoherent or tangential speech patterns, have difficulty organizing their thoughts, and display inappropriate emotional responses.
  • Catatonic Type: Catatonic schizophrenia involves disturbances in motor behavior. Individuals may display extreme motor abnormalities, such as rigid or stiff postures, excessive and purposeless motor activity, or a complete lack of movement (catatonic stupor). 
  • Undifferentiated Type: This subtype is used when a person exhibits significant symptoms of schizophrenia but does not fit into any specific subtype. 
  • Residual Type: This subtype is used when an individual has a history of schizophrenia but is currently experiencing a milder form of the disorder. 

Eligibility Criteria for Schizophrenia Disability 

It is understood that schizophrenia can be a debilitating condition, so the Social Security Administration is aware that some people with the condition may need to collect social security disability due to an inability to work. The applicants need to meet the eligibility criteria outlined in the Blue Book of the SSA.

  • Medical records are extremely important for a person attempting to qualify for Schizophrenia social security disability. A medical professional will need to document that the individual has experienced symptoms such as delusions, periods spent in a catatonic state, and hallucinations.
  • Any symptoms of schizophrenia experienced by the sufferer must be observed by a medical professional for at least 12 months before benefits can be requested. The extent of these symptoms must make performing work tasks completely impossible, even if reasonable accommodations are made.
  • The SSA will want the person applying for SSDI benefits to show that they are not able to do any kind of work before approving their benefits. For people with schizophrenia, this means that they cannot reasonably perform the duties related to any job they have held or cannot engage in substantial gainful activity. Any skills acquired while working or attending school may also be evaluated to determine whether there is a job that can be performed by the individual.
  • Schizophrenic individuals will need to prove that they require the assistance of other people at all times because of their mental state. Decompensation, a deterioration of the mental function of an individual, is usually assessed to determine whether the mental function of the sufferer has degraded enough to make working any type of job impossible.

Can You Receive Disability Benefits for Schizophrenia?

Yes, it is possible to obtain disability benefits for schizophrenia if your medical condition is severe. The SSA evaluates the severity of schizophrenia and its impact on an individual’s ability to work through a process called Sequential Evaluation. 

The symptoms result in at least two of the following: marked restriction of activities of daily living, marked difficulties in social functioning, marked difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace, or repeated episodes of decompensation (worsening of symptoms). 

Questions to ask yourself before applying for Schizophrenia

Before applying for disability benefits for schizophrenia, it can be helpful to ask yourself the following questions:

  • How does schizophrenia impact my daily life?
  • Have I been receiving appropriate medical treatment and therapy?
  • Can I provide sufficient medical evidence to support my disability claim? 
  • How long have my symptoms persisted? 
  • Have I attempted to work despite my symptoms?
  • Can I provide information about the functional limitations caused by my condition? 
  • Have I consulted with a healthcare professional or disability expert

My schizophrenia meets the eligibility criteria. Now what?

The next step after meeting the criteria is to apply for the benefits. The application process is lengthy and time-consuming, so you can apply as soon as possible. 

  • When to apply? An applicant can apply for the benefits if you have been diagnosed with a disability, frequently experience hallucinations, and you have been struggling with the problems for 2 years. 
  • When to reconsider applying? If your medical condition is improving and your doctor is recommending that your health will improve within 12 months. You can wait before applying if your disability is not interfering with your ability to work. 
  • When not to apply? You must not apply if you are earning more than $1,400 per month or your condition is not at all affecting your work apart from occasionally interfering. 
  • How to apply? You have various options to apply for the benefits either online by visiting the official SSA website, by calling at 1-800-771-1213 or by visiting the local office. 

Which type of benefits should you apply for Schizophrenia?

When applying for benefits for schizophrenia, SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) and SSI (Supplemental Security Income) are disability programs provided by the SSA. If you have worked for at least 5 out of 10 years, you may be eligible for SSDI, whereas if you have little income and assets, you may apply for SSI benefits. An applicant may analyze which benefits will be best. 

How long does it take to get SSI for schizophrenia?

Generally, it can take several months to over a year to receive a decision on an SSI application for schizophrenia. The initial application review process can take around three to five months on average, but it can be longer in some cases. 

How much does disability pay for schizophrenia?

The average monthly Schizophrenia disability check amount is $1035.29. For SSDI, the maximum monthly benefit is $3,627, and for SSI is $914 in 2023. The actual disability check may depend on your income and work history.

What will happen if you do not meet the criteria for Schizophrenia?

If you do not meet the criteria, you may still be eligible for the benefits through ‘residual functional capacity’ (RFC). RFC refers to assessing an individual’s ability to perform work-related activities despite their impairments. 

Has your disability claim been rejected? Contact Chermol & Fishman, LLC

If your disability claim has been rejected, it can be beneficial to seek assistance from an experienced Dallas disability lawyer. They have superior expertise in navigating the complex disability claim process and can provide guidance and support to increase your chances of a successful appeal. Schedule a free consultation or call 888-774-7243 if you have more questions about your Schizophrenia disability claim.

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