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Is Schizophrenia a Disability & How Can You Claim Benefits?

Schizophrenia is a condition of the mind which affects a person's mental processes, reality perception, emotions, and social interactions. Discover the Social Security Administration's requirements and the disability benefits for those who qualify.

What Is Schizophrenia? Is Schizophrenia a Disability?

Schizophrenia is a long-term mental condition characterized by difficulty distinguishing between one’s own delusions and reality.

Delusions, hallucinations, disordered speech, disordered or catatonic conduct, and negative symptoms including limited emotional expression and decreased motivation to engage in activities are all signs of schizophrenia.

People with schizophrenia frequently struggle to continue functioning at the same level as before the onset of their symptoms in domains including job, interpersonal connections, and self-care.

Schizophrenia is a mental condition that alters a person’s perception of reality. When people have delusions and hallucinations, it leads to psychosis. Schizophrenia interferes with a person’s capacity to perform at work, school, or in social situations by affecting their thoughts, perceptions, and behavior.

Stigmatization of those with schizophrenia is a common occurrence in society and can be one of their largest issues. Many fallacies exist about schizophrenia, which makes it difficult for most people to comprehend. Contrary to common misconception, those who suffer from schizophrenia do not have “split personalities.” Schizophrenia patients rarely engage in aggressive behavior, although they do commit suicide at a higher incidence than the overall population.

About 1 in 100 persons have schizophrenia, and the symptoms typically appear in late adolescence or early adulthood. It is typically a chronic condition that, if untreated, can lead to severe impairment.

Is Schizophrenia a Disability? Types of Schizophrenia

Up until the most recent version of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the DSM-5, which was published in 2013, schizophrenia was divided into 5 subtypes, even when some people think there are only 3 types of schizophrenia:

  1. Paranoid Schizophrenia: People with paranoid schizophrenia experience at least one delusion or frequent auditory hallucinations.
  2. Disorganized Schizophrenia: The symptoms of disorganized schizophrenia include disorganized thought, disorganized speech, and flat affect.
  3. Catatonic Schizophrenia: In addition to other symptoms of schizophrenia, people with catatonic schizophrenia also experience catatonia, which may include unresponsiveness or restlessness.
  4. Residual Schizophrenia: In people with residual schizophrenia, symptoms of schizophrenia still exist but are weaker than in other subtypes.
  5. Undifferentiated Schizophrenia: If symptoms from more than one of the other subtypes of schizophrenia are present, but there aren’t enough to classify the individual in another subtype, they meet the criteria for undifferentiated schizophrenia.

These different levels of schizophrenia were dropped from the DSM-5 in favor of utilizing a spectrum to categorize symptom severity due to the lack of clinical support for their use in treating patients and the instability among them as a result of schizophrenia’s unpredictable course.

Schizophrenia disability: Schizophrenia was divided into 5 subtypes, even though some people think there are only 3 types of schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia disability: Schizophrenia was divided into 5 subtypes, even though some people think there are only 3 types of schizophrenia.

Many mental health professionals still find the categories helpful in understanding the condition and choosing the most appropriate treatment for each patient, even though they are no longer used to diagnose schizophrenia. Even though a person presently displays symptoms connected to one of the categories, it’s crucial to comprehend that these symptoms can alter swiftly and that there’s no such thing as low-level schizophrenia.

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Schizophrenia Fact Sheet

Schizophrenia Overview

A condition that impairs a person’s capacity for clear thought, feeling, and behavior.
Although the precise origin of schizophrenia is unknown, it is thought that a mix of genetics, environment and altered brain chemistry and structure may be at play.

Schizophrenia is characterized by disorganized speech or behavior, depressed participation in daily tasks, and ideas or experiences that appear disconnected from reality. Memory loss and attention problems could also be present.

Treatment is typically ongoing and frequently consists of a mix of prescription drugs, psychotherapy, and well-coordinated specialty care services.

Schizophrenia Symptoms

Schizophrenia is characterized by disorganized speech or behavior, depressed participation in daily tasks, and ideas or experiences that appear disconnected from reality. Memory loss and attention problems could also be present.


Schizophrenia Treatments

Treatment is typically ongoing and frequently consists of a mix of prescription drugs, psychotherapy, and well-coordinated specialty care services.

Schizophrenia Statistics

A mental disorder called schizophrenia is characterized by disturbances in thought, perception, emotional responsiveness, and social interactions. Although each person’s experience with schizophrenia is unique, the condition is typically chronic and can be both severe and incapacitating.


4.9%

With the risk being highest in the early stages of the illness, an estimated 4.9% of people with schizophrenia commit suicide, a rate that is significantly higher than that of the general population.

Source: National Insitute Of Mental Health

24 Million

Around 24 million people, or 1 in 300 persons (0.32%), globally suffer from schizophrenia. Adults at this rate make up 1 in 222 individuals (0.45%). It does not occur as frequently as many other mental illnesses.

Source: World Health Organization

50%

The great majority of people with schizophrenia do not currently have access to mental health services. An estimated 50% of patients in psychiatric hospitals have a diagnosis of schizophrenia.

Source: World Health Organization


Does schizophrenia qualify for disability? Schizophrenia is a condition of the mind. A person's mental processes, reality perception, emotions, and social interactions could all be affected.
Does schizophrenia qualify for disability? Schizophrenia is a condition of the mind. A person’s mental processes, reality perception, emotions, and social interactions could all be affected.

Schizophrenia and Disability: Disability For Schizophrenia

Is schizophrenia considered a disability? Schizophrenia is a condition of the mind. A person’s mental processes, reality perception, emotions, and social interactions could all be affected. If they meet the Social Security Administration’s requirements, they can be eligible for disability benefits.

Schizophrenia symptoms might differ from person to person. However, the condition can be crippling and severe.

This article will look at how someone can be eligible for benefits and what to anticipate from the application procedure. It will also go over actions one can take to strengthen their claim for benefits.

Is schizophrenia a mental disability? Schizophrenia is one of the top 15 main causes of disability worldwide, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The disease can have an impact on a person’s personal, social, academic, and professional spheres of life.

Is paranoid schizophrenia a disability? Through the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs, the Social Security Administration (SSA) offers support to people with impairments. But in order to qualify for benefits, a person must fulfill certain SSA criteria.

The Blue Book, a document produced by the SSA, contains a list of impairments that are considered severe enough to qualify as disabilities. In the section on mental diseases, under listing 12.03, is a listing for schizophrenia.

If a person is unable to engage in substantial gainful activity, they are likely to meet the SSA’s criteria of disability. The schizophrenia disability approval rate in 2019 was 1.8%.

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Is Schizophrenia Considered a Disability? How Does Schizophrenia Affect the Capacity to Work?

Schizophrenia is typically diagnosed in patients between the ages of 16 and 30. Schizophrenia symptoms might differ from person to person. However, the three types of symptoms are cognitive, negative, and psychotic.

A person’s capacity to work can be negatively impacted by these symptoms. According to a 2021 study, few persons with schizophrenia are employed. Additionally, it claims that quickly after the initial diagnosis, the employment rate of persons with schizophrenia fell.

Disability Schizophrenia: Schizophrenia symptoms

Schizophrenia symptoms generally fall under three categories:

  • Positive symptoms: this includes psychosis (including hallucinations and delusions), disordered thinking and speech, altered sensations
  • Negative symptoms: these symptoms include reduced motivation, difficulty planning, suppressed emotions, social withdrawal
  • Cognitive symptoms: this can include trouble with attention or concentration, memory loss, difficulty absorbing information, trouble making decisions

Psychotic symptoms or positive symptoms can affect how a person thinks, acts, and experiences reality. Psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia include:

  • Hallucinations, which may include seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, or feeling things that are not there
  • Delusions, where a person has strong beliefs that are not true
  • Ways of thinking that are unusual or not logical
  • Abnormal body movements

Negative symptoms can impact a person’s daily activities and social life. Symptoms include:

  • Difficulties in planning and carrying out activities
  • Trouble feeling pleasure
  • Avoiding social interactions and activities
  • Having low energy
  • Being socially awkward

Cognitive symptoms can impact a person’s attention, memory, and concentration. Symptoms include difficulty:

  • Processing information
  • Making decisions
  • With focusing and attention
  • Using information directly after learning it

Causes of Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a brain disorder that is thought to be caused by a number of factors, including:

  • Genetics: Although genetics alone does not cause schizophrenia, having a parent, sibling, or another close relative who has the disease increases the likelihood of having it by nearly six times.
  • Environmental: Interactions with particular surroundings may enhance the incidence of schizophrenia in those with genetic risk factors. Stress can lead to schizophrenia, even though it is not the cause. Additionally, a person’s risk is increased if they have poor nutrition or are exposed to a virus before to birth.
  • Brain chemistry: According to research, the sizes of particular brain regions, the connections between them, and the interactions of neurotransmitters like dopamine in the brains of persons with schizophrenia are all different from those of people without the disorder.
  • Drug use: Cannabis and other mind-altering substances can raise the risk of schizophrenia in teenagers and young adults.

It is impossible to pinpoint the exact cause of schizophrenia in any one person because multiple factors may play a role in its onset.

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Schizophrenia Disability Benefits: Can You Get Disability for Schizophrenia?

To qualify for disability benefits, a person must meet certain criteria outlined by the SSA in the Blue Book and provide information about their condition, medication, and work history.

Disability Benefits Schizophrenia: SSA criteria

An applicant must have worked in jobs covered by social security and have a medical condition that meets the SSA’s definition of disability.

A person is eligible if they:

  • Are unable to engage in a substantial gainful activity because of a medical condition
  • Are unable to do work they did previously
  • Have a medical condition that lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or will likely result in death

A person will also need to have worked long enough and recently enough to qualify for disability benefits under social security.

How much does disability pay for schizophrenia? To qualify for disability benefits, a person must meet certain criteria outlined by the SSA in the Blue Book and provide information about their condition, medication, and work history.
How much does disability pay for schizophrenia? To qualify for disability benefits, a person must meet certain criteria outlined by the SSA in the Blue Book and provide information about their condition, medication, and work history.

Can Someone With Schizophrenia Get Disability? Blue Book criteria

The Blue Book outlines the criteria someone with schizophrenia must meet to be eligible for social security benefits. A person can find these criteria in the mental disorders section under listing 12.03. To qualify, they must satisfy either the criteria under A and B or A and C.

A requires that a person must have medical documentation of one or more of the following:

  • Delusions or hallucinations
  • Disorganized thinking (speech)
  • Grossly disorganized behavior or catatonia

B requires an extreme limitation of one, or a marked limitation of two, of the following areas of mental functioning:

  • Understanding, remembering, or applying information
  • Interacting with others
  • Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace
  • Self-adapting or managing oneself

C requires that the mental disorder is serious and persistent and that there is a documented history from a medical professional regarding the condition over at least 2 years. Medical evidence that a person may use to support this includes:

  • Medical treatment
  • Mental health treatment
  • Psychosocial support

A person will also need to show that they have minimal capacity to adapt to changes in their environment or demands that are not already part of their daily routine.

Applying for social security benefits – Getting disability for schizophrenia

If a person believes that they meet the above criteria for schizophrenia, they may apply:

  • Online using the SSA portal
  • At their local social security office
  • By calling 1-800-772-1213 between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. from Monday to Friday

A person can also appoint an advocate, attorney, or third-party representative to make an application on their behalf. The SSA provides information for people representing SSA claimants. It is also important to check the SSA checklist of documents that a person will need to provide when making a disability application.

In addition to evidence regarding their medical condition, a person may also need to include information such as:

  • Their doctor or healthcare professional
  • Names and dates of medical tests
  • Names of medication and reason for medication
  • Job history, including dates when their medical condition began to affect their ability to work

A person will also need to include identity documents such as a birth certificate and proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status.

Is Schizophrenia a Permanent Disability?

How much disability do you get for schizophrenia? How much disability will I get for schizophrenia? Despite the fact that schizophrenia can be incapacitating, it is frequently manageable with the right medicine. But if your signs worsen to the point where you can no longer work, you can qualify for long-term disability benefits.

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How to Get Disability for Schizophrenia? The Application Process

After a person files their application, the SSA will check it to see if it complies with the fundamental criteria for disability compensation. The SSA will also assess the claimant’s current employment activities and determine if they have worked for sufficient years to be eligible for SSA payments.

The Disability Determination Services office in the applicant’s state receives the application once it has been sent by the SSA. It will make a decision regarding the application for disability and notify the applicant in writing.

A letter informing the applicant of the SSA’s decision, the number of monthly benefits they can anticipate, and the date that payments would start will be sent to them if their application is accepted.

The SSA frequently rejects a person’s initial application. The claimant has the option to challenge the judgment in this situation. A person has 60 days from the date they get the initial decision letter to submit a written appeal request. There are four different appeal levels.

Paranoid Schizophrenia Disability: Steps to take to improve your case

Anyone applying for social security benefits needs to ensure their application is thorough and provides all the necessary evidence. This includes ensuring that all necessary paperwork is present to prevent processing delays in their application. A person should follow the checklist provided by the SSA to ensure they meet the basic requirements.

Similarly, a person should ensure that their doctor evidences all treatment plans and provides extensive medical evidence to help strengthen the application for disability.

Can you work if you have schizophrenia?

While schizophrenia symptoms can seriously impair a person’s capacity to work, there are a number of treatment options that can help patients control symptoms, avoid relapses, and lead satisfying lives that include work. Antipsychotic medications, which can help lessen the severity and frequency of psychotic symptoms, are among the potential therapy choices.

Find out more about schizophrenic patients’ treatment options here. People with schizophrenia can find jobs as a component of their recovery with the aid of psychosocial treatments like assisted employment.

A supported employment program called Individual Placement and Support (IPS) is available for those with severe mental diseases like schizophrenia. The IPS Employment Center collaborates with 26 US states to put supported employment programs into action.

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Schizophrenia Treatment

Schizophrenia typically first manifests in early adulthood and has no known treatment. Treatment is therefore required to guarantee that individuals can manage the illness. Therapy and antipsychotic medicines are examples of these treatments.

Antipsychotic Drugs

Antipsychotic drugs lessen the severity and duration of schizophrenia symptoms and are often taken as a daily pill or liquid. They could, however, cause unwanted side effects like weight gain and tiredness. Even though antipsychotic drugs have side effects, once someone starts taking them, they shouldn’t stop because doing so could make their symptoms worse.

Therapy

For patients with schizophrenia, cognitive-behavioral therapy is one of the types of treatment available to them.

Another choice is assertive community treatment. People with schizophrenia who are at high risk of homelessness and institutionalization can benefit from assertive community treatment. It also involves regular interactions with patients.

We Level Up Dual Diagnosis Treatment

The exact definition of dual diagnosis (also referred to as co-occurring disorders) can differ between institutions.  However, it is generally described as the specific treatment of someone who has been diagnosed with a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder at the same time.

Treating dual-diagnosis clients is a critical aspect of our inpatient treatment experience because co-occurring disorders are strongly correlated with instances of substance abuse. Creating a treatment plan that addresses the physical aspects of withdrawal, the psychological connection with drug use, and managing underlying mental health disorders is part of setting clients up for success. 

A thorough mental health analysis identifies possibilities for treatment.  Meeting with mental health counselors and medical care providers means access to behavioral therapy and medication treatment.

At our dual diagnosis treatment center, We Level Up can implement the highest quality of care. We recognize the fragile complexities of how mental and substance abuse disorders can influence others and sometimes result in a vicious cycle of addiction.  That’s why we offer specialized treatment in dual-diagnosis cases to provide the most excellent chance of true healing and long-lasting recovery.

It can be challenging to accept that you may be living with a mental illness, but once it is properly diagnosed and treated, treating the presenting case of substance abuse can be magnitudes easier. Only a properly trained medical professional can diagnose these underlying conditions.  If you believe you are suffering from a disorder alongside addiction, we urge you to seek a qualified treatment center to begin your journey to recovery. Call We Level Up today.

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Sources

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[2] Disability benefits, how you qualify. (n.d.).
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[3] Disability benefits. (n.d.).
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[4] Disability evaluation under social security. Listing of impairments – adult listings (part A). (n.d.).
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[5] Disability evaluation under social security. 12.00 Mental disorders – adult. (n.d.).
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[6] George, M., et al. (2017). Understanding the schizophrenia prodrome.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5806335/

[7] Holm, M., et al. (2021). Employment among people with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder: A population-based study using nationwide registers [Abstract].
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[8] Representing social security claimants. (n.d.).
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[9] Schizophrenia. (2022).
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[10] Schizophrenia. (n.d.).
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