You could qualify for Social Security disability benefits if you have schizophrenia. However, you must meet certain criteria established by the Social Security to collect disability for your condition. Before you apply, though, it is important to understand a couple of things. One, Social Security only grants benefits if you are fully disabled. That means your application must be compelling and it must show that you are incapable of substantial gainful activity. Two, working with a dedicated and accomplished Social Security attorney can simplify the notoriously confusing and often frustrating process of applying for benefits and can boost your chances of approval on the first try.
Getting Social Security Disability for Schizophrenia
There are two ways to get approved for Social Security disability based on a diagnosis of schizophrenia. The first is to qualify based on the SSA’s Blue Book criteria. These criteria are highly specific and very rigid and can be difficult to meet. Most Social Security disability recipients did not get approved based on a Blue Book listing. The second is to complete a Residual Functional Capacity test, which shows the SSA the extent to which your schizophrenia limits your ability to work and carry out activities of daily living.
The Blue Book Listing for Schizophrenia
The SSA’s Blue Book criteria for schizophrenia requires you to show medical documentation of at least one of the following:
- Delusions or hallucinations
- Disorganized thinking or speech
- Grossly disorganized behavior or catatonia
Your diagnosis also must indicate that you have an extreme limitation in one or a marked limitation in two of the following areas:
- Ability to remember information, understand it, and apply it
- Ability to interact appropriately with others and in social settings
- Ability to concentrate on work, persist in completing tasks, and maintain pace
- Ability to adapt to changing circumstances and manage one’s person
If you meet the criteria from the first list but do not show a limitation in any of the areas from the second list, you can also qualify by proving that you have a “serious and persistent” condition that has existed for at least two years and is characterized by both of the following:
- Ongoing medical treatment, mental health therapy, or psycho support that is necessary to reduce the impact of your condition and enable you to function in society.
- Lack of capacity to adjust to changes in your environment or adapt to demands not already part of your everyday life.
Residual Functional Capacity Test for Schizophrenia
The Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) test measures the impact your schizophrenia has on your daily life—most notably, your ability to work and to carry out daily living activities, such as eating, bathing, dressing, and toileting. If you do not qualify for disability under a Blue Book listing, an RFC test can show that you deserve benefits based on your inability to sustain gainful employment.
Your RFC test must be completed by a licensed physician. The test results will point to all the specific ways your condition limits your functionality. For instance, if you cannot function socially or work in a group with other people, your RFC test will convey this information. As part of a thorough disability application, a completed RFC test offers one of the most powerful pieces of evidence we can use.
The Two Social Security Disability Programs
The SSA administers two separate disability programs. The first, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), operates as insurance for workers who become disabled and can no longer earn a living. To qualify for SSDI, you must have a sufficient work history and have paid payroll taxes. The second, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), is a need-based program for individuals with limited incomes and little assets. To qualify for SSI, your income and net worth both must fall under certain thresholds set by Social Security.
As part of your initial case evaluation, our attorneys can review your documents and let you know which of these two programs is the best fit based on your situation. Nearly all applicants qualify for one program or the other based on finances and work history (meeting the medical criteria is the more difficult part). Some of our clients have even qualified for and both SSDI and SSI.
To Schedule Your Free Attorney Case Evaluation Today, Call the Disability Advantage Group, at 865-566-0800
You could qualify for Social Security disability benefits if you have schizophrenia, and the attorneys at the Disability Advantage Group, want to show you how. Call us today to set up a free case evaluation. Call 865-566-0800.