The Law Center for Social Security Rights

Getting your Social Security Disability & SSI Benefits are ALL WE DO!

Here is a list of common disabilities. There are many others.

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Satisfying any one of these listings may qualify you for benefits.
There are other ways to establish your right to benefits.

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome – Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (RSDS/CRPS)

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome – Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (RSDS/CRPS)

Living with reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome – complex regional pain syndrome (RSDS/CRPS) can be difficult for people who suffer from a severe case of the disease. Complications related to RSDS/CRPS can significantly limit a person’s ability to complete normal activities. While medications can reduce pain related to the condition, side effects of these medications cause issues related to concentration. Some people are even unable to work due to this condition.

Social security disability (SSD) benefits are available for people who are not able to work due to a disability. People who have worked fund these benefits and had withdrawals made from their paychecks in order to pay for the insurance program. Unlike government assistance, SSD benefits are only offered to people who have worked to earn the benefits. Anyone who finds themselves needing to apply for SSD benefits should understand that these are benefits that they are entitled to because of their hard work. SSD is not a handout.

What is RSDS/CRPS?

RSDS/CRPS is a condition that causes sufferers to feel chronic pain at the affected part of the body. While researchers are not entirely certain about the reason that the body starts to feel chronic, regional pain, it is believed that this condition is related to a dysfunction in the central nervous system. The brain sends impulses to nerves in a centralized location of the body on a regular basis. These impulses in the nerves cause a sufferer to feel pain.

People who suffer from RSDS/CRPS may notice changes in the rate at which their hair or nails grow. The pain that is associated with this condition is typically described as a burning pain, and there may be swelling in addition to pain at the affected site. RSDS/CRPS is believed to hinder healing for sufferers.

Qualifying for Social Security due to Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome – Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has acknowledged that RSDS/CRPS is a condition that causes severe, consistent pain that makes sufferers unable to work. The SSA has also recognized that pain medications often cause side effects that hinder a person’s ability to work. For example, many strong pain medications make it difficult for a person to concentrate on work tasks.

Sufferers must consult a medical professional about pain related to RSDS/CRPS in order to establish that a disability is present. The medical professional will need to diagnose the condition and keep notes related to symptoms that the sufferer complains about. Qualifying for SSD also requires a person to experience at least one complication besides the pain associated with RSDS/CRPS. Complications include osteoporosis, swelling, excessive sweating and involuntary movement.

It is important for SSD applicants to provide the SSA with thorough medical records. Anyone suffering from RSDS/CRPS should seek prompt medical attention and talk with their doctor about gathering the information needed to apply for benefits.

Help with the SSD application process is available from experienced SSD attorneys, like the team at The Law Center for Social Security Rights. These legal professionals are able to help people gather medical information and complete an application correctly to ensure that the SSA is being given an accurate picture of a person’s need for benefits.

Our attorneys can help expedite the application process by helping a person determine whether their disability could qualify them for benefits, and ultimately ensuring they get the compensation they deserve. Call us today at 248-350-1000 for a free consultation.

Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia

People who suffer from the chronic pain of fibromyalgia often find that they are unable to work due to complications related to the condition. Constantly feeling pain can make it impossible for sufferers to complete even the most simple physical tasks at work. The disabling condition may entitle qualified individuals to social security disability (SSD) benefits.

SSD benefits are available to people who have worked in the past. Individuals need to work a certain number of hours per year in order to earn credits that can be used to qualify the person for SSD benefits in the future if the individual ever becomes disabled. Unlike government assistance programs, SSD is an insurance policy that is funded by workers.

What Is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes widespread pain in sufferers. While pain is the primary problem associated with the condition, sufferers typically experience chronic fatigue, rapid changes in mood and difficulty sleeping. The exact cause of fibromyalgia is still unknown, but researchers have determined that the brain of a sufferer likely has trouble processing pain signals in a way that keeps nerve impulses under control.

There is not always a trigger for the condition to develop, but some people develop fibromyalgia after suffering from an infection or becoming injured. Fibromyalgia affects more women than men, and people who have the condition may also have depression, irritable bowel syndrome or anxiety. It is uncertain whether these conditions are related.

Fibromyalgia cannot be cured. Sufferers must work with their medical providers to find ways to cope with the pain and other symptoms of the condition. Exercise and relaxation techniques may help sufferers to cope with the chronic pain and fatigue that are associated with the condition.

Qualifying For Social Security Due To Fibromyalgia

It is difficult for fibromyalgia sufferers to qualify for SSD benefits because pain is a subjective medical complication. The Social Security Administration (SSA) often rejects applications from people who have fibromyalgia because the individuals are unable to establish that their pain and other complications are so severe that they are completely unable to work. People who have the condition along with another condition have a higher chance of being approved for benefits.

The good news is that the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) has established a diagnosis criteria list for fibromyalgia. People who suffered from the condition in the past typically had trouble convincing medical professionals that their symptoms were real. People who experience symptoms including widespread pain and tender spots can receive a diagnosis if a medical professional rules out other conditions.

Many people who apply for SSD benefits due to fibromyalgia find that they are denied after the initial application. The subjective nature of this condition means that it is essential for applicants to provide detailed information including medical records to the SSA. An experienced SSD attorney can help with the application process. Law firms that specialize in SSD cases are able to guide applicants through the process to ensure that they will have the highest chance of being approved for the benefits that they need.

No one likes to be stuck at home without the ability to work due to a disability. Anyone who feels that their fibromyalgia is severe enough to make it unable for them to complete work tasks should contact an attorney for a consultation. Call us today at 248-350-1000 for a free consultation.

Back and Neck Impairments

Back and Neck Impairments

Back and neck impairments are typically minor enough to allow a person to complete their normal activities on a daily basis without a second thought. A mild annoyance may be felt when pain or stiffness occurs, but most individuals are able to continue working and caring for themselves despite back and neck problems.

However, some people suffer from severe back and neck impairments that cause significant pain and stiffness. Limited range of motion and a need for ongoing medical treatment could make it impossible for an individual to work. People who cannot work due to a disability should consider applying for social security disability (SSD) benefits.

SSD benefits are earned through paycheck deductions that are made while a person is working. This means that SSD benefits come from an insurance policy instead of being sourced from government funds for public welfare assistance. There is no need for applicants to feel as if they are asking for a handout.

What Are Back and Neck Impairments?

Back and neck impairments include any injury or condition that relates to the back and neck. This is a blanket term that covers conditions including scoliosis, arthritis, osteoporosis, fractures of the vertebrae and pinched nerves. Injuries that cause complications in this area of the body can also be considered to be back or neck impairments.

There are many conditions related to the back and neck that cause a person to suffer from chronic pain. While pain medications may be able to help a person cope with the pain that results from their condition, these medications come with potentially dangerous side effects. People who have chronic pain in the back or neck may develop depression because of the difficulty that they may have coping with their disorder.

Qualifying For Social Security Due To Back and Neck Impairments

Qualifying for SSD benefits is a matter of proving to the Social Security Administration (SSA) that the complications of a condition make it impossible for a person to work in any position for which they are qualified. This means that people who are no longer able to complete physical job tasks may be required to find a position that is less physical if they are qualified for such a position.

The complications that are suffered as a result of back and neck impairments should be thoroughly recorded by a licensed medical professional for the SSD application process. The SSA will review this medical information when a determination is being made. Date of diagnosis is key during this process. Other medical information that is of interest to the SSA includes details related to treatment and the results of lab tests that may have been ordered during treatment. For example, X-rays and MRIs may be used to diagnose back and neck impairments and help doctors form a treatment plan.

A residual functional capacity (RFC) test completed by the applicant helps the SSA determine whether an applicant is significantly limited by a disability. This test also lets the SSA know whether an applicant could find work in a different field based on their employment history.

Applying for SSD benefits is a long and difficult process for individuals to complete alone. It is recommended that applicants ask an attorney for help with the application process to ensure that they are treated fairly by the SSA. The Law Center for Social Security Rights offers free consultations for applicants. Call us today at 248-350-1000 to get started.

Lupus

Lupus

Lupus is a devastating disease that causes a wide range of complications. Many people who suffer from lupus find themselves unable to work because of the severity of these complications. People who are unable to work because of lupus may be able to collect social security disability (SSD) benefits, but the application process requires that sufferers gather detailed information about their condition.

It is important for lupus sufferers to remember that SSD benefits are a type of insurance that is available to people who have worked in the past. Applicants need to work a minimum amount of time each year leading up to their date of disability in order to qualify for benefits. This program is an insurance policy for workers rather than an assistance program.

What Is Lupus?

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation because the tissues and organs in the body are constantly being attacked by the immune system of a sufferer. Complications may develop in any affected part of the body. The parts of the body that are affected vary from person to person.

The cause of lupus is not always known. Some people are prone to developing the chronic disease. Other people develop lupus after recovering from an infection or taking a certain medication. Exposure to sunlight has even been tied to lupus in some cases, and researchers believe that there is a genetic component to the development of lupus.

Medical professionals may not immediately recognize that a person is suffering from lupus. This is because the complications that are present in a person who has lupus often mimic complications related to other conditions.

Swelling in the brain, kidneys, lungs, heart and blood vessels may cause life-threatening complications in a person who has lupus. The condition also makes sufferers more susceptible to infections, cancer and bone tissue necrosis. Women who become pregnant while suffering from lupus can experience miscarriage or preterm delivery.

There is currently no cure for lupus. Symptoms of the disease may be made less severe with the use of medication.

Qualifying For Social Security Due To Lupus

Lupus causes a range of complications that could only cause minor issues for a sufferer. Many people who suffer from lupus find that they are able to work as normal until complications become more severe. The fact that the complications of lupus vary so widely means that the Social Security Administration (SSA) has chosen not to directly address whether lupus is covered by SSD benefits. Each case is handled individually.

Anyone who suffers from lupus and feels that their complications are severe enough to prevent them from working should be sure to seek medical attention on a regular basis. The SSA will want to see that the applicant has been diagnosed with lupus and is receiving treatment for severe complications of the condition.

Complications that qualify a person for SSD benefits must be severe enough to make it impossible for a person to work in any position for which they are qualified. Examples of complications of lupus that may meet this requirement include extreme, chronic fatigue or widespread joint pain.

Most people need legal assistance during the SSD benefit application process. Consulting with an attorney like those at The Law Center for Social Security Rights makes the application process go more smoothly and can cut down on the time it takes to file an application and receive a notice about the SSA’s decision. Call us today at 248-350-1000 for a free consultation.

Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson’s Disease

Living with Parkinson’s disease can make each day a struggle. Severe complications of the disease may make it impossible for a person to work. Anyone who feels that they are unable to work due to disability should consider applying for social security disability (SSD) benefits.

What Is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a condition that affects the nervous system of a sufferer. People who suffer from the disease do not immediately display symptoms, and the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are mild in the beginning. However, the progression of the disease causes sufferers to develop a tremor, stiffness in the joints and slurred speech.

The early stages of Parkinson’s disease may manifest as a slowing of the movements of the body. It may be difficult for sufferers to use facial expressions as their nervous system becomes more affected by the condition. Writing may become difficult or impossible due to the tremor that most sufferers develop as the disease progresses.

Cognitive complications are possible for people who suffer from the condition. Difficulty concentrating and emotional changes may be observed. Many sufferers find that they develop depression after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Other complications include sleep problems, constipation, sexual dysfunction and bladder problems.

While there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, sufferers may be able to keep their symptoms under control through the use of medication. There are several different medications for the disease that are intended to affect levels of dopamine in the brain. People who suffer from an advanced form of Parkinson’s disease may be treated with surgical intervention. Surgery for the disease is used to implant electrodes in the brain to help alleviate severe symptoms of the condition.

Most cases of Parkinson’s disease are caused by genetic factors. While exposure to toxic substances could make a person more likely to develop the disease, this reason for developing Parkinson’s disease tends to be very rare. Researchers believe that there are also unknown causes for the disease.

Qualifying For Social Security Due To Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is one of the conditions that is listed as a disability by the Social Security Administration (SSA). This does not mean that an applicant will be automatically granted benefits if they suffer from the condition, but it is easier to qualify for benefits when a condition has already been listed.

The applicant is required to prove to the SSA that they suffer from severe complications of Parkinson’s disease. Stiffness and tremors in at least two extremities must be experienced in order for a person to qualify for benefits. These complications must limit the movement of the sufferer, and the SSA may favor people who are unable to walk normally due to complications of the condition.

The SSA uses a residual function capacity (RFC) test to determine whether a person is able to work. This test asks questions related to the ability of an applicant to perform certain tasks at home and in a professional setting. People who are unable to complete work tasks that must be done in any job for which they are qualified are likely to be approved for benefits, but it is important for all applicants to submit a detailed medical history in order to provide the SSA with solid proof of disability. This medical history must be sourced from a licensed medical professional.

Legal representation is recommended during the SSD benefit application process. Lawyers who specialize in SSD cases, like those at The Law Center for Social Security Rights, have the knowledge necessary to assist applicants wherever they are in the SSD process. Call us today at 248-350-1000 for a free consultation.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a mysterious condition that causes sufferers to spend all of their time feeling extremely tired. The fatigue that is associated with this condition can make it difficult for sufferers to concentrate on work tasks, and it may become difficult for people who have chronic fatigue syndrome to complete physical tasks because they always feel that they need to rest.

Social security disability (SSD) benefits may be available for people who suffer from this condition. These benefits are funded by deductions from a worker’s paycheck. SSD benefits come from an insurance program that requires a person to work a certain number of hours per year before collecting benefits. This is not an assistance program.

What Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a disorder that is not fully understood by researchers. While the cause of the condition is unknown, researchers believe that there is some correlation between the development of chronic fatigue syndrome and factors including sex, age and stress level. Events that cause a disruption in the immune system of the sufferer may also trigger the development of the condition.

Fatigue is not the only symptom that is present when a person suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome. Other symptoms include muscle pain, joint stiffness or pain, sore throat, trouble concentrating, swelling in the lymph nodes and headache. Doctors may misdiagnose chronic fatigue syndrome because the symptoms of the condition are similar to the symptoms of many other medical conditions.

People who suffer from the condition may develop depression. A sufferer’s constant tiredness often causes the individual to withdrawal from friends and family members. Excessive work absences may pile up when a sufferer feels extremely tired and achy due to this condition.

Treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome is not able to cure the condition. Antidepressants, sleeping pills and cognitive therapy can be used to lessen the severity of symptoms to allow a person to lead a more normal life.

Qualifying For Social Security Due To Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Qualifying for SSD benefits due to chronic fatigue syndromes requires a sufferer to establish that the condition exists by having a medical provider rule out other possibilities. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will be expecting proof that fatigue is not helped with rest and that fatigue is severe enough to significantly reduce a person’s ability to complete work and personal tasks.

The symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome must be experienced for a minimum of six months before a person becomes eligible for SSD benefits. There are eight symptoms related to chronic fatigue syndrome that should be documented by a medical professional. A person must experience a minimum of four of these symptoms in order to qualify for benefits.

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Chronic sore throat
  • Muscle pain or weakness
  • Swelling in the lymph nodes
  • Fatigue that is not helped by sleep
  • Headaches
  • Feeling unwell for a minimum of 24 hours following physical activity

Applying for SSD benefits is a lengthy and often confusing process. The Law Center for Social Security Rights specializes in SSD cases; it’s all we do. Contact one of our experienced SSD attorneys for more information about qualifying for benefits with chronic fatigue syndrome. A consultation is the first step toward getting the benefits that are needed when working is impossible. Call us today at 248-350-1000 for a free consultation.

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is a devastating disease that can cause a person to become unable to walk or speak. The condition progresses at different rates for each sufferer, and it is possible for people to remain active during early stages of the disease. However, multiple sclerosis has no cure and eventually results in severe complications for most sufferers.

People who suffer from multiple sclerosis may be able to receive social security disability (SSD) benefits due to an inability to work. These benefits are available to people who have worked in the past and paid into the insurance program. Applicants are required to have worked a minimum number of hours per year before they are eligible to receive benefits.

What Is Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple sclerosis is a disease that causes the immune system of a sufferer to start to eat away at the protective layer around the nerves that is known at the myelin. Removal of this layer cuts off signals from the brain to any part of the body that is connected with the damaged nerves.

The symptoms that occur as a result of multiple sclerosis include blurred vision, tingling in the extremities, numbness, weakness, tremors, fatigue, difficulty sleeping and slurred speech. Complications that occur as a result of multiple sclerosis may cause spasms in the muscles, memory loss, depression and problems with the bladder. People may even develop epilepsy or become paralyzed due to multiple sclerosis. Paralysis of the legs is most common with this condition.

Researchers are not certain what causes multiple sclerosis. The effect that the condition has on the immune system makes researchers believe that it is an autoimmune disease. While genetics and environmental factors may play a part in the development of multiple sclerosis, the exact trigger for the condition is still unknown.

Qualifying For Social Security Due To Multiple Sclerosis

The problem with qualifying for SSD benefits due to multiple sclerosis is that the symptoms of the condition can come and go. People who develop the disease also tend to be young, and the Social Security Administration (SSA) is known to carefully review applications that are made by younger individuals.

Anyone who suffers from multiple sclerosis should visit a medical provider in order to receive a diagnosis. A series of tests will be performed to ensure that the diagnosis is correct. Medical providers should also keep a complete record of symptoms and treatments that have been administered to patients. These records are used by the SSA to determine whether the symptoms of multiple sclerosis are severe enough to make it impossible for a person to work.

Some sufferers find that they experience episodes during which symptoms make it difficult for them to complete daily tasks, but these episodes are short-term in nature. Other individuals find that they have a version of multiple sclerosis that becomes progressively worse. Medical providers are able to help sufferers determine which type of multiple sclerosis is present.

Law firms that work on SSD cases are available to help individuals when they are applying for SSD benefits. Experienced attorneys, such as those at The Law Center for Social Security Rights, can discuss the application process with a person in order to ensure that paperwork is filed in a timely manner. Our legal professionals are also able to assist with the gathering of medical records so that the SSA is provided with thorough proof that a disability exists. Call us today at 248-350-1000 for a free consultation.

Lyme Disease

Lyme Disease

Most people who are bitten by ticks infected with Lyme disease are able to receive prompt treatment that includes a round of antibiotics. These individuals will recover fully from the disease. However, people who are not able to receive treatment before Lyme disease progresses will have to live with the disease and its complications for life.

Some of the complications of Lyme disease can make it difficult for people to complete physical tasks. Symptoms of the disease also affect brain function. Anyone who feels that they are no longer able to work due to complications from Lyme disease should consider applying for social security disability (SSD) benefits. These benefits are available to people who have worked in the past. The program is intended to act as insurance policy in case a person becomes temporarily or permanently disabled.

What Is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease develops in people who are bitten by infected ticks. It is possible for people to stop the development of the disease if they receive prompt treatment after being bitten by a tick, but many people are unaware that they have been bitten and seek medical treatment too late.

People who notice a rash after being bitten by a tick need to visit a medical provider in order to be treated for Lyme disease. Development of Lyme disease can take up to a month after a person is bitten. Symptoms of the condition include swelling in the joints, fatigue, memory impairment, difficulty concentrating, and weakness in the face and tingling in the extremities or on the back.

Joint pain and stiffness may progress in a way that makes symptoms mimic arthritis. Knee pain and stiffness could even lead to a condition that requires a person to have a portion of the joint removed in order to alleviate symptoms. Complications in the nervous system that can occur due to Lyme disease can lead to meningitis, swelling in the brain and cognitive problems. Inflammation of the heart can also develop over time.

Qualifying For Social Security Due To Lyme Disease

It may be difficult for a medical professional to diagnose Lyme disease if a person does not seek treatment until the disease has progressed. This is because the disease has symptoms that are similar to symptoms in other conditions including fibromyalgia and multiple sclerosis. Anyone who suffers from Lyme disease will need to have a series of tests done to ensure that the correct diagnosis is made.

Qualifying for SSD benefits is a matter of presenting proof of disability to the Social Security Administration (SSA). The SSA will need to see that a person is so negatively affected by their condition that they cannot work. The physical limitations of the disease for a particular individual will be displayed when the residual function capacity (RFC) test is administered. This test helps determine whether a person is able to complete job tasks for any position for which they are qualified.

Medical records are used to evaluate whether the joint stiffness, muscle weakness, cognitive problems or fatigue suffered by a person who has Lyme disease are severe enough to qualify them for benefits. A licensed medical professional should be keeping detailed records for this purpose.

Experienced legal representatives from The Law Center for Social Security Rights can assist applicants with the process of gathering medical records and filling out paperwork to send to the SSA. Consult one of our professional attorneys with SSD benefit experience for more information. Call us today at 248-350-1000 for a free consultation.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, also known by the name of manic depression, is a psychotic mental disorder involving both depression and mania (a mood characterized by euphoria, hyperactivity, fast talking, rapid thoughts, and sometimes poor judgment). Some claimants have “rapid cycling” of manic and depressive episodes, but for others a manic or depressive episode can last for weeks or months.

Qualifying for Disability Benefits Based on the Bipolar Disorder Listing

There are two ways to qualify for disability benefits for bipolar disorder. Remember, SS evaluates your condition assuming you are seeking treatment and are medications. The first way is to meet the specific requirements for bipolar disorder that the Social Security has set out under listing 12.04 on affective (mood) disorders. To qualify under the SSA’s official listing for bipolar disorder, you must have a diagnosis of bipolar disorder and a history of specific, severe symptoms of both depression and mania, even if you currently are experiencing the symptoms of only one or the other.

First, you are required to have had any three of the following symptoms of mania, which are typically present in bipolar disorder I:

  • excessive activity and energy (hyperactivity)
  • unnaturally fast, frenzied speech (“pressured speech”)
  • quickly changing ideas and thought patterns (“flight of ideas”)
  • inflated self-esteem (usually with false beliefs)
  • decreased need for sleep or insomnia
  • easy distractibility
  • takes risks by partaking in activities with likely painful consequences, or
  • paranoid thinking, delusions, or hallucinations.

People with bipolar disorder II often exhibit hypomania, a milder form of mania, and so may not have the above required symptoms even though they have the required symptoms of depression, below. These bipolar patients may be able to qualify for disability under the depression listing if their depression is severe enough.

Second, you are also required to have had any four of the following symptoms of depression:

  • decreased energy
  • difficulty concentrating or thinking
  • loss of interest in most activities (or anhedonia, the loss of ability to enjoy previously enjoyed activities)
  • lack of physical movement, difficulty doing routine physical activities
  • appetite disturbance with weight gain or loss
  • disturbance of sleep
  • feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • suicidal thoughts, or
  • paranoid thinking, delusions, or hallucinations.

Third, the SSA requires that your bipolar disorder causes any two of the four of the following problems:

  • repeated, extended episodes of decompensation (worsening symptoms)
  • severe difficulties in maintaining social functioning
  • severe difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace, or
  • severe restriction of activities of daily living (ADLs).

Alternatively, you might be able to qualify under bipolar disorder without fulfilling any of the above three requirements if your diagnosed bipolar disorder has lasted at least two years and has improved somewhat with medication and support, but you aren’t expected to be able to work because your condition limits your ability to do even basic work activities and you have one of the following:

  • repeated episodes of decompensation (episodes of worse symptoms, each of extended duration
  • a condition such that even a minimal increase in mental demands or a change in your environment is predicted to cause you to decompensate, or
  • a one- or two-year history of inability to function outside a highly supportive living arrangement, and signs that you’ll need to continue the arrangement.
Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that refers to a group of psychiatric disorders that causes abnormal thought and emotional processes in the brain. Symptoms include delusions, hallucinations, thought and behavior disorder. Disordered thinking typically presents as trouble communicating thought through speech, leading to stringing together meaningless words or stopping in the middle of a sentence. There are three main types of schizophrenia: paranoid, disorganized, and catatonic

Qualifying for Disability Benefits Based on the Schizophrenia Disorder Listing

There are two ways to qualify for disability benefits for schizophrenia. Remember, SS evaluates your condition assuming you are seeking treatment and are on medications. The first way is to meet the specific requirements for schizophrenia that the Social Security has set out under Listing 12.03, Schizophrenic, paranoid, and other psychotic disorders. To be eligible for this disability listing, you must have medical evidence showing that you have one or more of the following symptoms on a persistent basis, despite taking medication:

  • Hallucinations or delusions
  • A catatonic state (having rigid muscles or being nonresponsive)
  • Illogical thought in connection with a blunt, flat, or inappropriate presentation, or
  • Being isolated and/or emotionally withdrawn.

These symptoms also must result in at least two of the following results:

  • A severe restriction in your daily activities
  • Severe difficulties in your functioning with other people
  • Severe problems in maintaining your attention, perseverance, and pace on tasks, or
  • Repeated episodes of decompensation (an increase in your symptoms associated with a loss in your ability to function), with each episode lasting at least two weeks.

Alternately, you may be eligible for disability under Listing 12.03 if you have medical evidence that you have had a continuing schizophrenic disorder lasting at least two years that significantly limits your ability to perform simple work tasks, along with one of the following factors:

  • Repeated episodes of decompensation, with each episode lasting at least two weeks
  • A current state of functioning where even a small increase in your mental demands or a change in your environment would cause you to decompensate, or
  • A current living arrangement lasting at least one year that provides a highly supportive environment outside of which you are unable to function.

Qualifying for Disability Based on Reduced Functional Capacity

If you don’t qualify under the SSA’s strict requirements for schizophrenia, above, the SSA will determine your “residual functional capacity” (RFC) to perform basic work tasks, which means how much ability to work you have remaining after your disease has taken its toll.  To be found disabled, your RFC must prevent you from performing your past work or any other work. An RFC is a list of your ability to perform such tasks as sitting, walking, standing, working with others, and following directions. A mental RFC will state whether you are capable of unskilled work, semi-skilled work, or skilled work.  If you have schizophrenia, it is likely that your ability to perform mental skills will be greatly reduced. Therefore, your mental RFC might also include the following: an inability to concentrate on tasks on a long-term basis, an inability to work well with co-workers, and an inability to perform most basic work tasks quickly and under a deadline.  If you have severe problems with basic mental skills such as concentration and understanding directions, then it is more probable that the SSA will find you unable to perform any work.

Disability Evaluation Under Social Security
Adult Listings (Part A)

The following sections contain medical criteria that apply to the evaluation of impairments in adults age 18 and over and that may apply to the evaluation of impairments in children under age 18 if the disease processes have a similar effect on adults and younger children.

The Law Center for Social Security Rights

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