Schizophrenia and Social Security Disability

Just over 1 percent of the population is affected by Schizophrenia. People who suffer from the condition often experience a barrage of severe and debilitating symptoms. In many cases, individuals who are diagnosed with Schizophrenia are unable to work and, in some cases, cannot be left unattended. The financial repercussions of the disorder can be devastating. Fortunately, Social Security Disability benefits can often help those who have been diagnosed with a schizophrenic condition. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with Schizophrenia and you would like to obtain Social Security Disability benefits, the following information can help you through the Social Security Disability process.

Schizophrenia - Condition and Symptoms

Schizophrenia, also referred to as split personality disorder, is a chronic mental illness. The condition affects more than 2 million people in the United States alone and is more prevalent among men than it is in women.

The symptoms of Schizophrenia can be debilitating in nature. People who suffer from the condition will often experience hostility, paranoia, emotional impairment, depression, hallucinations, disrupted sleep patterns, odd or irrational statements, forgetfulness, poor concentration, extreme reactions to criticism, improper word use, difficulty maintaining relationships and social isolation. The specific symptoms and the severity of those symptoms will vary from individual to individual.

The symptoms suffered by an individual who is diagnosed with Schizophrenia may depend on the type of Schizophrenia the person is diagnosed with. There are four main categories of Schizophrenia including paranoid Schizophrenia, catatonic Schizophrenia, disorganized Schizophrenia and undifferentiated Schizophrenia. A person who is diagnosed with paranoid Schizophrenia will display anxiety, a tendency to argue and uncontrolled anger. Those who are diagnosed with catatonic Schizophrenia will suffer from increased agitation, rigid muscles, an increased pain tolerance and a negative emotional state. Individuals who suffer from disorganized Schizophrenia will display inappropriate laughter, incoherent speech and immature, repetitive behavior. When a person is diagnosed with undifferentiated Schizophrenia, it means that they exhibit symptoms from more than one category of the illness.

Schizophrenia is usually diagnosed by observing a patient's emotions and actions. Some tests may also be conducted to diagnose a schizophrenic condition, such as interviews and assessment questionnaires. In many cases, blood tests and brain imaging tests will be conducted to rule out physical causes of the symptoms a patient is suffering from.

Once a schizophrenic condition has been diagnosed it is very important that treatment is provided. While there is no cure for Schizophrenia, treatment can help manage the symptoms of the condition. Common treatments for Schizophrenia include behavioral therapy, mood stabilizing drugs and anti-psychotic medications. In severe cases, hospitalization will be necessary in order to care properly for a schizophrenic patient.

Filing for Social Security Disability with Schizophrenia

Fortunately, Schizophrenia is a qualifying condition for Social Security Disability benefits according to the Social Security Administration's published disability guidelines. The Social Security Administration (SSA) publishes a listing of impairments that is known as the “Blue Book”. Schizophrenia is covered under these listings in Section 12.03.

A diagnosis of Schizophrenia is not enough, in and of itself, to qualify an individual for Social Security Disability benefits. Because the severity of Schizophrenia varies from person to person, certain guidelines must be met in order to qualify for disability benefits. According to Section 12.03 of the SSA Blue Book, an individual must suffer from delusions, hallucinations, catatonic behavior, patterns of illogical thinking and/or emotional isolation in order to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. You must also be able to prove that your condition has lasted for at least two years and that you are not able to function in the outside world without a significant amount of support.

Schizophrenia and Your Social Security Disability Case

In some situations, an individual who applies for Social Security Disability benefits due to Schizophrenia will be approved at the initial stage of the disability application process. Most of the time, however, it will be necessary to file an appeal in order to receive the benefits you are entitled to. This is largely due to the fact that it can be difficult to prove that Schizophrenia is preventing an individual from performing substantial gainful activity. Approximately 70 percent of disability applications are denied at the initial stage of the application process.

If you are looking to file for Social Security Disability benefits or have already been denied, you should consider retaining the services of a Social Security Disability attorney. Your attorney can help you gather the information and evidence needed to prove the extent of your disability to the SSA and can represent you during the hearing stage of the disability appeal process. Statistics show that applicants who have legal representation during all stages are more likely to receive a favorable decision on their disability claim than those who do not.