Schizophrenia is a mental illness that is defined by the sufferer having a limited ability to understand reality. They may exhibit strange speech or have hallucinations that lead them to form confused beliefs about the world.
This can often mean that those who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia are unable to gain meaningful employment, and they, therefore, struggle financially. In some situations, schizophrenia sufferers can qualify for disability benefits with the Social Security Administration (SSA). The following is an overview of the defined qualifying criteria.
Those claiming disability benefits for schizophrenia must be able to produce medical documentation confirming at least one of the following:
- They experience hallucinations or delusions
- Their thinking or speech is disorganized
- Their behavior is grossly disorganized
Limitations or persistence of the condition
In addition to providing medical documentation, there should also be evidence of either an extreme limitation of mental functioning, or evidence the condition is serious and persistent.
When demonstrating that there is an extreme limitation of mental functioning, it should be shown that the sufferer has a reduced capacity to understand or remember information, interact with others or concentrate.
When demonstrating the seriousness and persistence of the condition, there should be a medically documented history of the condition for at least two years. It should be shown that if any improvement has been made, that it has only been through the support of a highly controlled setting.
If a person is suffering from schizophrenia in addition to other mental or physical conditions, it may be possible to qualify for disability benefits without necessarily fulfilling this criteria.