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Receiving Disability Benefits for Schizophrenia
Those with schizophrenia can find themselves unable to work as this disorder can severely limit their ability to engage in normal daily activities and social interactions. By extension, schizophrenia can prevent an individual from obtaining and maintaining gainful employment. To successfully obtain a disability award for schizophrenia, your medical records must not only document your schizophrenia symptoms they must also document—with specificity—how your symptoms impact your ability to:
- Stay on task
- Interact with your co-workers
- Interact with your supervisors
- Interact with the public
- Show up for work
In other words, simply stating you are disabled and cannot work is not enough. Evidence of a 5150 hospitalization can provide compelling evidence as well as how long you have struggled with your diagnosis. Schizophrenia can certainly be disabling because it severely limits your ability to engage in normal daily activities. It can be extremely helpful to have an experienced Social Security disability attorney from Carmichael Law Group by your side to present your claim in the best way possible.
At Carmichael Law Group, we fully understand the untenable position you are in. You may be unable to work and financially support yourself, yet also unable to prove to the SSA that you deserve disability benefits. Our attorneys are highly skilled and extremely knowledgeable regarding every aspect of SS disability benefits—we can help you get the disability benefits you need and deserve. It doesn’t matter where you live, we help clients nationwide.
We will do this by first ensuring you meet SSDI’s five-step review process, then showing the impact your condition has had on your life and your ability to work. Correct storytelling regarding your condition, while showing the impact of the condition carries much more weight than just the “title” of your condition.
Social Security does not pay for partial disability or short-term disability—only total disability. SSA determines whether you are disabled by asking the following five questions:
- Are you currently working? If you are working, and you are consistently making more than $1,310 per month, you will probably not be considered disabled.
- Does your disability prevent you from performing basic work-related activities (walking, standing, sitting, remembering)? In short, is your condition considered “severe?”
- Does your disabling medical condition meet or equal the severity of a listing found in the Blue Book list of medical conditions?
- Are you able to do the work you did prior to your disability?
- Can you make an adjustment to do any other type of work?
What Is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia affects an individual’s ability to think, feel, and behave clearly or appropriately. The cause of schizophrenia is unclear, but it appears to be a combination of environment, genetics, and altered brain chemistry. The thoughts and experiences of an individual with schizophrenia can be out of touch with reality. He or she may exhibit disorganized speech or behaviors and may experience decreased participation in the daily activities of life. Difficulties concentrating and memory lapses may also be present.
The treatment for schizophrenia generally involves a combination of medications, psychotherapy, and coordinated specialty care services, and is usually lifelong following a diagnosis. About 200,000 cases of schizophrenia per year are diagnosed and it is considered a chronic condition. There are four major types of schizophrenia: Paranoid Schizophrenia, Catatonic Schizophrenia, Disorganized Schizophrenia, and Undifferentiated Schizophrenia. Residual Schizophrenia refers to a situation in which the majority of the disorder’s symptoms are under control, but residual symptoms still manifest from time to time.
Is Schizophrenia a Disability Under Social Security Disability Rules?
Schizophrenia is found in the SSA impairment listings under Section 12.03: Schizophrenic, Paranoid, and Other Psychotic Disorders. You must be able to show you suffer from one of the following in order to qualify for disability benefits:
- Emotional isolation and withdrawal from social interactions, or
- A clear pattern of illogical or incoherent thinking (evidenced by inappropriate mood or flat affect and speech), or
- Catatonic or disorganized behavior, or
- Hallucinations or delusions
If your symptoms are not severe enough for you to require full-time care but do prevent you from working, there is a second set of requirements that can render you eligible for disability benefits:
- Your medical records show you have a psychotic disorder that has lasted for at least two years and has had a significant negative impact on your ability to obtain and maintain work.
- You must be able to clearly show you are unable to function in the world without a great deal of outside support.
Providing Proof for Schizophrenia and Disability Benefits
Suppose your medical evidence does not fully meet Listing 12.03. The SSA will then determine your residual functional capacity (RFC). This is your ability to perform basic work tasks—i.e, how much you are still able to do, despite your schizophrenia. The RFC must show that you are able to do so little that you are unable to perform any jobs you’ve done in the past or any other type of work. Those with schizophrenia generally have a reduced ability to perform mental skills, an inability to concentrate on long-term tasks, an inability to work well with supervisors and co-workers, and an inability to perform even basic work tasks quickly and under a deadline.
Problems with concentration and an inability to understand and follow directions make it more likely the SSA will find that you are unable to perform any work. If, however, the SSA finds that you can do some type of simple, unskilled job that requires little contact with co-workers, they may find you are not disabled. One extremely important issue in schizophrenia disability cases is the use of medications, and whether those medications effectively control your symptoms. You will be asked for a list of all your current medications, and the SSA will check to see that you are following any treatment prescribed by your doctor.
Getting Help with Your Schizophrenia and Disability Benefits from Carmichael Law Group
Even when you deserve and need SS disability benefits, getting them may be difficult. The filing process can be complex, with only about a third of all those who apply for SS disability benefits being approved with their initial application. Fortunately, there is an appeals process. Carmichael Law Group can help you at any stage of the process. We understand that the process can be lengthy, frustrating, and stressful, which is why we work so hard for our clients. We truly care about your future and will work hard on your behalf to give you the very best chance of success. Contact Carmichael Law Group today!