Schizophrenia is a psychotic mental disorder, meaning that it affects one’s perception of reality. People with schizophrenia who meet the Social Security Administration’s criteria may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits.
Part of the SSA’s requirements to qualify for SSD benefits with schizophrenia is medical documentation of at least one of the following symptoms.
Disorganized speech may involve “word salad,” or a lot of meaningless words strung together. A person who exhibits disorganized speech may offer answers that do not relate to the questions that prompted them. According to the Mayo Clinic, a health care professional can infer from a person’s disorganized speech disorganization of thought, which would otherwise be impossible to observe.
Delusions and hallucinations
A delusion is a false belief with no basis in fact. People with schizophrenia may have delusional beliefs in their own abilities or paranoid fears involving nonexistent threats of harm. Hallucinations are perceptions of things that are not there. People with schizophrenia most commonly experience auditory hallucinations, although visual hallucinations are also common and hallucinations involving the other senses are possible.
Disorganized behavior can involve excessive or useless movement or resistance to following instructions. It can also involve behavior without focus, making completing tasks more difficult. People with schizophrenia may become agitated unpredictably or act silly in a childlike manner. Another behavioral symptom of schizophrenia is catatonia, which occurs when a person fails to react to stimuli in his or her environment.
Symptoms of schizophrenia alone are not enough to qualify for SSD benefits. There must also be either a medically documented history of at least two years of serious and persistent disorder or extreme or marked limitation of mental functioning.