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How is Social Security disability determined for schizophrenia?

People in Michigan who are suffering from mental issues that are preventing them from functioning socially and being able to work are often unaware that they might be eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits for their mental illness. There are several criteria that must be met in order to be approved to receive benefits for these disabilities. It's important to understand them before dismissing one's ability to be approved or taking the steps to file.

The issues surrounding psychotic disorders, paranoia and schizophrenia are characterized by a person's level of functioning beginning to deteriorate. There are categories that must be met to receive Social Security disability benefits denoted by the letters A, B and C.

For A, there must be medically documented incidence, either continuous or intermittent, of: hallucinations or delusions; catatonia or behaving in a grossly disorganized fashion; being incoherent or illogical with flat, blunt or inappropriate affect or isolation or emotional withdrawal. For B, there must be two of the following: restricted daily activities; showing a marked difficulty in functioning socially; showing a marked difficulty in concentrating, persisting or pacing; or episodic decompensating.

If the individual doesn't meet the requirements in A and B, benefits can still be received for meeting the requirements in C. These include: medically documented history of paranoia, schizophrenia or psychosis that has lasted for at least two years and interfered with basic work and having symptoms that are reduced with medication or therapy. The person must also show either decompensation or at least one year of being unable to function when there isn't a living arrangement that is highly supportive.

While many people might be suffering in silence from mental illness and not know what to do about it, the Social Security disability program is available if the requirements are met. These issues are not as obvious as a person who is suffering from a physical disability or a more prominently recognized and diagnosed illness, but they can be just as debilitating. The first step a person who believes he or she might be eligible for benefits should take is to discuss the matter with a legal professional experienced in Social Security disability and mental illness.

Source: SSA.gov, "Schizophrenic, paranoid and other psychotic disorders," accessed on Nov. 18, 2014

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