Just over one percent of people in the U.S. suffer from schizophrenia, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The delusions, hallucinations, social impairments, and psychosis can make holding a job, forming and maintaining relationships, and other day-to-day activities especially difficult for those living with this complex disorder.

While there are several potentially helpful treatments available, there is no cure for schizophrenia. For many people, the symptoms can be mentally, emotionally, socially, and financially devastating. If your or your loved one has a severe case of schizophrenia, be it paranoid, disorganized, or catatonic, the condition may be enough to warrant Social Security disability benefits for a schizophrenia disorder in Raleigh.

For more information about disability benefit programs and how to apply, call our disability lawyer at Lunn and Forro for a free consultation: 888-966-6566. 

Does Social Security consider schizophrenia as a qualifying disability? 

The Social Security Administration (SSA) keeps a Listing of Impairments, which details potentially disabling conditions and the criteria applicants must meet to qualify as disabled.

Schizophrenia is one of the mental conditions on the list under Section 12.03: Schizophrenic, paranoid, and other psychotic disorders. However, merely having a diagnosis of schizophrenia is not enough to qualify as disabled. Your condition must meet certain criteria in order to pass the evaluation under this listing.

The SSA stipulates that under this listing, an applicant’s schizophrenia must satisfy the primary criteria and at least one of the two secondary criteria.

Primary Criteria: You must first provide medical evidence of at least one of the following:

  • “Delusions or hallucinations
  • Disorganization thinking (speech)
  • Grossly disorganized behavior or catatonia”

Secondary Criteria Option 1: Once you have established the section above, you must also provide proof of “extreme limitation of one, or marked limitation of two” of the following:

  • “Understanding, remembering, or applying information
  • Interacting with others
  • Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace
  • Adapting or managing oneself”

Secondary Criteria Option 2: The SSA may also consider you disabled under this listing if you have a medically documented history of a chronic schizophrenic, with proof of ongoing treatment, therapy, support, or arrangements designed to limit your symptoms and an inability to adapt to environmental or behavioral changes.

What are the other requirements for disability benefits?

There are both general and program-specific requirements you must satisfy in order to collect disability benefits. For both types of disability benefits offered by the SSA, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the general criteria are as follows:

  • You must either meet the aforementioned criteria under the listing for schizophrenia, or, if you do not quite fit the listing, you must be able to prove to the SSA that your condition(s) is so impairing that it substantially affects your ability to work.
  • The severity of your condition must be such that it affects your ability to perform work-related tasks. You must be unable to do work you once did, and you must be unable to adjust to different work.
  • Your condition must have lasted or be expected to last a year or longer or result in death.
  • Your monthly income must not exceed $1,170. If it does, the SSA will consider you “engaged in substantial gainful activity (SGA),” and it will determine that you are not disabled.

There are additional criteria, as well, the specifics of which depend on whether you are applying for SSDI or SSI. For SSDI, you will need to meet certain work credit requirements contingent upon your age; for SSI, your income and assets must fall below a certain amount.

The particular financial and work history requirements are fairly complex and outside the scope of this discussion. We can help you determine which type of benefit you qualify for as well as help you prove your eligibility.

How do I prove my disability claim based on schizophrenia to the SSA?

When you apply for disability benefits, you will need to submit substantial evidence that proves you are disabled and that you meet the general criteria for the program. The claims examiner will want to see detailed medical records that prove the severity of your condition, including a diagnosis, lab tests, psychological exams, the scope of your treatments, and your prognosis.

You will want to gather records from all of the professionals who have treated you for your schizophrenia and its related symptoms, including your general doctor, psychiatrist, and psychologist. The claims examiner will also take evidence from non-medical sources into consideration when determining the severity of your impairment. This may include input from counselors, therapists, social workers, your employer, and your family.

The more supportive evidence you have, the better. In fact, insufficient records are one of the primary reasons the SSA denies disability applications. When you work with our firm, we will review your files, identify any gaps in your records, and then help you obtain the necessary evidence to give the SSA.

What if the SSA denied my disability claim?

If you recently received notice that the SSA denied your application for disability benefits, our disability lawyers can help you appeal your case. It is important not to give up on benefits that you are entitled to. There are several levels of appeals we can use, if necessary, to prove your disability to the SSA.

Call Lunn & Forro today at 888-966-6566 and request a free consult with a disability lawyer in Raleigh to discuss your case.