Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe and disabling disorder according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Individuals living with Schizophrenia may hear voices or believe that people are reading their minds or plotting to harm them. Treatment may help with the symptoms but many struggle trying to get or keep a job according to Omaha disability attorney, Timothy Cuddigan.
Social Security evaluates schizophrenia under Listing 12.03, Schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders. In order to meet or equal this listing, an individual must satisfy both the "A" and "B" criteria of the listing or “A” and “C.” Satisfying the criteria under paragraph “A” means having medically documented persistence of one or more of the following:
- Delusions or hallucinations
- Catatonic or other grossly disorganized behavior
- Incoherence, loosening of associations, illogical thinking or poverty of content of speech
Satisfying the criteria under paragraph “B” means having extreme limitation of one, or marked limitation of two, of the following areas of mental functioning:
- Understand, remember, or apply information
- Interact with others
- Concentrate, persist, or maintain pace
- Adapt or manage oneself
Satisfying the criteria under paragraph “C” means your mental disorder is “serious and persistent”; that is, you have a medically documented history of the existence of the disorder over a period of at least 2 years, and there is evidence of both:
- Medical treatment, mental health therapy, psychosocial support(s), or a highly structured setting(s) that is ongoing and that diminishes the symptoms and signs of your mental disorder
- Marginal adjustment—that is, you have minimal capacity to adapt to changes in your environment or to demands that are not already part of your daily life
Most claimants that are awarded disability benefits do not meet or equal a listing, and the same is true of individuals living with schizophrenia unfortunately. The difficulty is meeting the "B" criteria of having two marked findings. However, if you suffer from schizophrenia, and it affects your ability to get or keep a job, don't give up. If you aren't awarded benefits at this step, Social Security proceeds with a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) assessment. Your RFC is a statement of your physical and mental limitations that affect your ability to work. If based on your RFC you are able to return to your past work, then you are not disabled. For most people the analysis of their claim does not stop there but rather proceeds to the final step of the sequential evaluation.
For most applicants, the decision on their disability claim comes down to whether or not their RFC or limitations, age and education, and job skills allow them to obtain and maintain any job in the national economy. If there are no jobs a person with their limitations could perform, they are eligible for benefits.
If you or a family member is living with schizophrenia and would like more information, contact us for a free pamphlet, Give Yourself the Best Chance of Winning Your Social Security Disability Case. You can also call (402) 933-5405, or contact us at [email protected].