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Filing for Social Security Disability with schizophrenia

According to Disability Benefits Help, schizophrenia is a severe mental illness that greatly hinders a person’s ability to discern between reality and delusion. The disease, which is characterized by the disintegration of emotional and mental processes, makes it difficult for individuals to act in an appropriate manner in social situations. Though psychologists, health care providers and researchers do not fully understand the onset of schizophrenia, they do know that the illness usually develops slowly and over the course of months or years. The outcome, however, is typically the same: Totally disabling symptoms and the inability to care for oneself. Missouri residents who live with schizophrenia and their loved ones often wonder if Social Security Disability covers the disorder. The short answer is yes. 

Per the Social Security Administration’s schedule of mental disorders, individuals who live with schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders may qualify for SSD benefits. To qualify, however, the condition must meet two out of three sets of criteria. 

First and foremost, an applicant must have an official medical diagnosis for the disorder. This means his or her medical records must include medical criteria for the condition. If a person meets this criterion, the SSA will then check to see if a condition meets one of two sets of criteria: 

  1. The disorder results in “marked” limitation of two, or “extreme” limitation of one, of four areas of mental functioning. Those four areas include the ability to comprehend, remember or use information; concentrate, endure or maintain stride; manage and adapt oneself; and interact with others; and/or 
  2. The mental illness meets the SSA’s definition of “serious and persistent.” To demonstrate this, an applicant must present medical documentation that proves the existence of the disorder for a period of at least two years, and that his or her case satisfies the criteria set forth in C1 and C2. 

Section C1 requires a claimant to present medical evidence from a reputable medical source that establishes the existence of a medically determinable mental illness. Said evidence must also detail to what extent the condition affects a person’s ability to function in a typical work environment. 

Section C2 requires a person to provide evidence from all other relevant medical sources, including psychologists, physicians, nurses, physician assistants, licensed clinical social workers and mental health counselors. Documentation may include a detailed listing of symptoms, a person’s psychological history, the results of mental and physical health assessments, psychiatric scale ratings, a diagnosis, medical history, therapy history and clinical observations, to name a few.