Woman with invisible illness

Schizophrenia and Social Security Disability Benefits

If you suffer a physical injury or disease that precludes you from being able to work, you likely qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. But what many people don’t realize is that sometimes mental disabilities can be just as serious. Here’s what to know about schizophrenia and SSD benefits. 

Schizophrenia is a psychotic mental disorder that can make it difficult to control behavior. Many people who suffer from severe schizophrenia have difficulty thinking logically, interacting in a normal social manner, and telling the difference between delusions or hallucinations and reality. 

The Severity May Differ

It’s important to note that schizophrenia is a spectrum disorder, meaning that its severity and how it impacts each person can vary greatly. There are many people diagnosed with schizophrenia who take well to medication and lead normal work lives. However, there are others who do not and subsequently are unable to maintain any type of employment. If this is the case, the individual may be entitled to SSD benefits to help make ends meet. 

Other disorders involving psychosis that may qualify someone for SSD benefits include:

  • Schizoaffective disorder
  • Schizophreniform disorder
  • Schizotypal (personality) disorder
  • Substance- or medication-induced psychotic disorder
  • Delusional disorder
  • Psychotic disorder (due to another medical condition)

Qualification Hinges on Functional Limitations 

It’s widely established that many individuals with so-called “invisible illnesses,” such as schizophrenia, are entitled to SSD benefits. However, simply having an invisible illness alone is not what qualifies someone. Instead, the Social Security Administration (SSA) looks to the applicant’s functional limitations caused by the condition. Disorders such as schizophrenia that do not have blood tests to diagnose them, must be determined by an examination of the mental state of the individual.  

Put simply, in order to qualify for SSD benefits, not only must you prove that you have been diagnosed with schizophrenia, but that its symptoms prevent you from working despite your best efforts (e.g. taking the proper medication).

Social Security Requirements for Schizophrenia

To qualify for SSD benefits due to schizophrenia, section 12.03 of the Social Security’s listing of impairments, requires that the individual demonstrate that he or she either constantly or intermittently suffers from any one of the following:

  • Delusions or hallucinations;
  • Disorganized thinking (speech); or
  • Grossly disorganized behavior or catatonia (rigid muscles, unresponsiveness, or inappropriate actions).

It’s important to understand that while medical records may show the symptoms or limitations of someone diagnosed with schizophrenia, they don’t necessarily include the connecting “how.” How the disorder and its limitations prevent the individual from working. This connection is necessary for receiving SSD benefits. 

The Las Vegas SSD Attorneys at Roeschke Law, LLC Can Help

If you or a loved one is struggling with a disability that prevents you from working, you may not know how to proceed. Fortunately, the attorneys at Roeschke Law, LLC can help. We understand the impact that a disability can have on your physical, emotional, and financial health. That’s why it’s our mission to help you. To learn more, or to schedule a consultation, contact us today!