Schizophrenia And Disability Payments From The Social Security Administration

The symptoms of severe mental illness may prevent an individual from being able to work.  Schizophrenia is one such illness that the Social Security Administration recognizes as a disabling condition in its Listing of Impairments.

Schizophrenia is addressed under Listing 12.03: Schizophrenic, Paranoid, and other Psychotic Disorders. 

To meet this listing, you must be able to provide medical documentation of symptoms consistent with schizophrenia, including:

  • Delusions or hallucinations
  • Catatonic or other grossly disorganized behavior
  • Incoherence, loosening of associations, illogical thinking, or poor speech content
  • Emotional withdrawal or isolation

Not only must you show that you have symptoms of schizophrenia, but you must also show that these symptoms cause at least two of the following:

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  • Marked impairments in your activities of daily living
  • Marked impairments in your ability to maintain social functioning
  • Marked impairments in your ability to maintain concentration, persistence, or pace
  • Episodes of decompensation lasting at least two weeks that take place at least three times per year

Some people who have been dealing with schizophrenia for a long time have been able to find medications or highly supportive living arrangements that allow them to be able to function relatively well day-to-day. 

If your symptoms of schizophrenia are not currently severe enough to meet the previously-mentioned requirements, you might still be disabled under Listing 12.03 if one of the following applies:

  • You have episodes of decompensation lasting at least two weeks that take place at least three times per year
  • You are coping fairly well on your present medications and in your present environment, but you would decompensate if you experienced even a minimal increase in your mental demands or a change in your environment
  • You have been living in a highly supportive living arrangement for over a year, and you are unable to function outside of it

Even if your condition does not meet the specific requirements of Listing 12.03, you may still be found disabled if you can show that your symptoms prevent you from being able to maintain full-time employment. 

In my experience, my clients who suffer from schizophrenia have difficulty relating to other people and are unable to concentrate on even simple tasks.  Their symptoms would make it difficult for them to get to work every day on time, if at all. 

If an Administrative Law Judge thinks that the evidence in your case supports these functional limitations, he or she may find you disabled.

Social Security needs more than just your description of your symptoms in order to find you disabled.  It must also have medical evidence showing your diagnoses, the types of therapy you have tried, and your inpatient or outpatient hospital visits. 

Unfortunately, there are no objective tests like x-rays or blood tests that can prove a diagnosis of schizophrenia, so it is very important that you have records from mental health specialists who have treated you long enough to be able to accurately assess your symptoms.

As with many mental illnesses, the symptoms of schizophrenia often interfere with the patient’s ability to comply with treatment recommendations.  Family members are often frustrated because the patient refuses to take medications or talk to a psychiatrist. 

While the SSA must take into account these barriers to treatment, it is my experience that a lack of medical records makes it difficult to win mental health disability claims. 

Many of my clients benefit greatly from the help of supportive family members or friends who help them adhere to medication regiments, attend therapy sessions, and meet deadlines in their disability claims.

My office works diligently and patiently with all of my clients whose disabilities make it difficult to meet deadlines and access medical documentation. 

If you or a loved one are struggling through the Social Security disability appeals process due to schizophrenia or any other disabling condition, please connect with my office for a free consultation.

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