Schizophrenia is a mental illness that impacts a person’s ability to understand and perceive the difference between reality and delusion. People diagnosed with schizophrenia often have difficulty caring for themselves and others and performing everyday functions, such as holding down a job. Medication can ease the complications of schizophrenia, but symptoms may worsen over time, despite medication regimens.
If you are diagnosed with schizophrenia that prevents you from carrying out daily functions, Jon Sipes, Attorney at Law, may be able to help you obtain Social Security Disability benefits. Jon Sipes has helped hundreds of El Paso residents obtain benefits when disabling medical conditions such as schizophrenia make it impossible for them to work.
What are Social Security Benefits?
There are two types of Social Security benefits: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Generally, both types of Social Security benefits require an individual to suffer from a long-term condition that prevents him or her from working.
Qualifying for SSDI or SSI depends on whether you have worked and the number of years you have worked and paid Social Security taxes. SSDI payments are based on a formula analyzing age, the number of years worked, and payroll taxes paid. You must have worked for some portion of the last ten years to meet SSDI eligibility.
SSDI payments are based on the amount of Social Security payroll taxes you paid during your employment history. Unlike SSDI, SSI payments are based on an amount set by Congress and are a basic payment for minimal support. As a result, monthly SSDI payments are usually higher than SSI payments.
Even if you are not eligible for SSDI payments, you may still qualify for SSI payments. The purpose of SSI payments is to meet the basic needs of the elderly, the blind, and those with other disabling conditions.
Am I Eligible for Social Security Benefits?
The Social Security Administration is in charge of reviewing Social Security Benefits applications and determining an applicant’s eligibility for either SSDI or SSI. The Social Security Administration determines whether an applicant has a long-term disability expected to last at least 1 year or result in death.
The Social Security Administration defines a disability as a long-term medical condition expected to continue for at least 1 year or result in death. Under this definition, a disability can result from physical injuries, chronic medical conditions, or mental illness. The Social Security Administration applies several tests to determine whether a disability prevents an applicant from performing any type of work when considering an application.
In addition to lasting for at least 1 year, an applicant’s medical or mental condition must also prevent him or her from doing work that earns income. The Social Security Administration calls this type of work substantial gainful activity (SGA). SGA is an activity that results in earning income over $1,310 per month. This amount is subject to yearly revision.
What is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a psychiatric disorder that commonly results in frequent inability to determine what is real and not real. Schizophrenia often presents itself in the form of hallucinations, delusions, or disorganized thinking patterns. There are 4 recognized types of schizophrenia: Paranoid Schizophrenia, Catatonic Schizophrenia, Disorganized Schizophrenia, and Undifferentiated Schizophrenia.
Although each type of schizophrenia generally includes different attributes, those suffering from schizophrenia may experience each type on a regular basis. Therefore, the classifications are difficult to apply and not very helpful in diagnosing schizophrenia.
Is Schizophrenia a Disability?
The Social Security Administration recognizes schizophrenia as a disability under the category of mental disorders.
What Does the Social Security Administration Look for When Evaluating Schizophrenia?
There are generally 2 ways to qualify for Social Security Benefits based on schizophrenia. Under the first test, an applicant must provide medical documentation showing:
(A) the applicant suffers from:
- delusions or hallucinations;
- disorganized thinking (speech); or
- grossly disorganized behavior or catatonia,
(B) the applicant has difficulty:
- understanding, remembering, or applying information;
- interacting with others; or
- adapting or managing his or herself.
The second test used to determine whether schizophrenia constitutes a disability is showing the disorder is serious and persistent, based on medical evidence of the disorder over 2 years.
To qualify for disability benefits based on schizophrenia, an application must show he or she suffers from hallucinations or delusions, disorganized or catatonic behavior, patterns of incoherent or illogical thought, or emotional isolation or withdrawal.
In evaluating a claim for disability for schizophrenia, the Social Security administration will pay particular attention to any hospitalizations a claimant may have had due to her mental condition. They will also look at how long a person has had continuous treatment for schizophrenia and if the treatment was successful or not to have a meaningful impact on the claimant’s daily functioning. Another factor that plays a part in determining a person’s claim for disability due to schizophrenia is whether or not they were compliant with their recommended treatment.
Can I Still Qualify for Disability Benefits if I Don’t Meet the Social Security Administration’s Criteria for Someone with Schizophrenia?
Generally, the answer to this question is yes. If you do not meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of someone with disabling schizophrenia, you may still qualify for disability benefits if you can show that your condition prevents you from working.
In this case, the Social Security Administration evaluates an applicant’s ability to work through a tool called a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) assessment. The RFC measures the most an applicant can do despite physical or mental impairments. To assess RFC, the Social Security Administration considers evidence, including medical records, a medical exam, and your statements regarding your pain or other limitations caused by CTS.
The RFC examines an applicant’s physical abilities, mental abilities, and other abilities such as senses affected by impairment. Symptoms of schizophrenia often include difficulty thinking, forming rational thought, or performing basic tasks. Additionally, the inability to distinguish between reality and delusion may make it hard for people with schizophrenia to function in a collaborative workplace.
What Evidence Do I Need to Prove to Show that I Have Schizophrenia for Disability Benefits?
To support a disability application, you will need to submit medical records, including a diagnosis that describes your symptoms. However, medical records alone are often insufficient to show how symptoms of schizophrenia impact an applicant’s ability to hold down employment. To further demonstrate how schizophrenia impacts your life, it is helpful to provide evidence of your limitations, such as showing that you rely on the assistance of others to help you perform day-to-day tasks, such as purchasing food and other necessities.
An application for Social Security Disability based on schizophrenia should also include records of prescribed medications to treat the condition. An applicant must show that he or she is doing everything possible to treat the condition but is still unable to work a job. However, many people with schizophrenia can successfully maintain employment if adequately medicated, which means the Social Security Administration may deny an application based on a successful medication regime. Because of this, it is crucial to include evidence in an application to show that, despite being medicated, your schizophrenia is a long-term impairment to your ability to work.
Discuss Your Claim Social Security Disability with an El Paso Attorney
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that can severely impact your ability to hold a job. If you or a loved one need financial assistance, Jon Sipes, Attorney at Law, can help you apply for Social Security Disability Benefits as a result of a schizophrenic condition. In the El Paso area, reach out to Attorney Jon Sipes to help you through the application process.