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What to know when seeking SSD benefits for schizophrenia

Dealing with mental health issues, such as schizophrenia, is often a difficult task. In fact, many people in Wayne County, Michigan, as well as in the entire United States, have either experienced those difficulties themselves or a friend or family member may face such challenges. Fortunately, the Social Security Administration acknowledges the challenges that mental illnesses pose and; therefore, offers Social Security disability benefits to those who qualify.

In order to determine SSD benefits eligibility for schizophrenia, the SSA compares an applicant's medical records with the guidelines contained in the Blue Book, which lists the disabling conditions and medical evidence that are necessary to obtain SSD benefits for schizophrenia. The Blue Book states that, in order to be eligible for SSD benefits, an applicant must display symptoms of schizophrenia, such as hallucinations, delusions, mood swings and abnormal speech.

In addition to observing the symptoms, the SSA will also determine if the symptoms have affected the applicant's inherent abilities. For example, the SSA will determine if schizophrenia has affected an applicant's ability to focus or the person's ability to complete certain tasks. The SSA will also determine if the illness has affected the applicant's social behavior and relationships. Finally, the SSA will also consider if schizophrenia has affected a person's ability to perform the most basic daily activities.

In cases where the SSA is unable to determine eligibility according to those criteria, the applicant may still be able to obtain SSD benefits for schizophrenia if that applicant has been experiencing the symptoms for at least two years. Additionally, the mental illness must not prevent the patient from working and living without constant assistance and monitoring.

The steps to determine disability may look fairly simple on paper but the actual disability determination process can often be complicated due to repeated reviews of medical records and requests of additional diagnoses. In such cases, many people who are seeking SSD benefits for schizophrenia may benefit if they retain an experienced Social Security attorney who can guide them through the claim process and, if required, also through the SSD benefits denial and appeal process.

Source: Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America, "Tips on Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits with Schizophrenia," Accessed on May 31, 2015

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