Can Individuals with Schizophrenia Qualify for SSD?
Known for its effects on thought processes, ability to perceive reality, emotional expression, and social interactions, schizophrenia is a mental health disorder that can have a serious limiting effect on an individual’s life. For some, schizophrenia is so severe that it limits or completely eliminates their ability to work.
If you have been diagnosed with schizophrenia, you may wonder if you qualify for SSD benefits. Learn more about what the SSA looks for, and to get more personalized assistance with your application, call The Dansby Law Firm at 334-834-7001.
The Blue Book Listing for Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is listed under Section 12 of the Listing of Impairments, along with other mental health diagnoses. You have to have one of the following:
- Delusions or hallucinations
- Disorganized thinking and speech
- Disorganized thinking or catatonia
You must also meet one of the two following criteria:
- Extreme limitation in one or marked limitation in two of these areas: ability to understand and apply information, interact with others, concentrate or persist in a task, or manage oneself
- Disorder is considered serious and persistent because it has been documented for at least two years, and you have an extremely structured setting that limits the signs of your disorder and minimal ability to adapt to changes in your environment
If you have documentation that you meet these requirements, you can receive benefits for your schizophrenia diagnosis.
Residual Functional Capacity
The requirements listed above are fairly restrictive, and there are many people with schizophrenia who do not meet these requirements but still are unable to work. If this is the situation you find yourself in, you may be able to have the SSA evaluate your residual functioning capacity.
This essentially tests how much you are able to do in spite of your diagnosis. It looks at your ability to perform basic work tasks. If it shows that you are so limited in your ability to execute work tasks that there are no job options available to you, you may be approved for benefits.
With a diagnosis of schizophrenia, your ability to execute tasks that require mental focus and clarity will be the main point of the test. The SSA will look at your ability to concentrate on tasks, work alongside coworkers, meet deadlines, see a task through to completion, and socialize appropriately in the workplace. Even if you are unable to work in your current field, the SSA will look for other jobs that may be a viable option for you.
Don’t forget that qualifying medically for SSD benefits is only one-half of the equation. You must also have enough work credits to receive SSDI payments. Most applicants must have at least 40 work credits, 20 of which must be from the 10 years prior to your disability. You can earn up to four credits per year when you earn a certain amount of money. The amount changes in each year. In 2022, you earn one credit for bringing in $1,510 in income.
Credit requirements vary based on age, so if you are younger than the average applicant, you may not need 40 credits. However, you will have to have some history of work. If you have no work credits, SSDI is not the right program for your needs. SSI, Supplemental Security Income, may be a better option for you. SSI has the same medical requirements as SSDI but does not require any work history. It does, however, require that you be below specific income and asset limits.
Qualifying for SSDI with a mental health disability, rather than a physical one, can be challenging. It requires a substantial amount of documentation, and you must be able to persevere through the application process, which often requires applicants to go through the appeal process at least once. With the help of an attorney, you can overcome these struggles and see the application process through.
Consult The Dansby Law Firm and Start Your Application
Let us help you as you apply for disability benefits or work through an appeal. Set up a time to talk with our team now—just call us at 334-834-7001 or fill out our contact form to tell us more about your needs.