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Is Having Schizophrenia Considered A Disability

Last updated: April 12, 2023

People with schizophrenia seem out of touch with reality due to a mental impairment. With schizophrenia, a person may hear voices and sounds that aren't there. The same can be said for seeing things that others cannot see. Hallucinations occur when someone sees something that isn't there. People with schizophrenia may perceive that the walls in a room are moving. They may be instructed to act in a certain manner by voices that constantly speak to them. Catatonic behavior, a split personality, or anti-social behavior are some of the symptoms of schizophrenia.

They may hear voices telling them to do things that are not healthy. Occasionally, they hear voices telling them they are not good people. Others also think that they have received messages from the TV. Some hear voices coming over the radio or see license plates and traffic signs. People often feel paranoid when they experience these symptoms. Schizophrenia often causes a person to feel threatened or that others are observing them. Although they are false beliefs, they seem real to people who have this mental illness.

Mental disorders such as schizophrenia make it difficult for you to work. The Social Security Administration offers two different kinds of disability benefits. Among them is disability compensation or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). The insurance is sometimes called Title II benefits. Additionally, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is available to those who qualify for it.

Causes Of Schizophrenia

The causes and origins of schizophrenia are unknown. The Symptoms of schizophrenia include unusual behavior, disorganized speech, and a lack of interest in daily activities.

A person who has Schizophrenia may also have trouble concentrating and remembering. Mental disorders such as schizophrenia may require long-term treatment. Medicine, psychotherapy, and specialty services provided by mental health professionals are part of the treatment process. A comprehensive list of these disorders can be viewed on the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website.

Is Schizophrenia A Disability?

The short answer to the question “is schizophrenia a disability?”: Yes, it is. Schizophrenia makes it impossible for you to work. Schizophrenia symptoms are severe enough to leave you unable to work. Your symptoms may not be controlled even if you take medication. You should apply for SSD and SSI disability benefits if you cannot work due to a mental health condition lasting more than 12 months.

How To Prove Disability If You Have Schizophrenia

You may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits if you cannot work due to Schizophrenia or a psychotic disorder. Psychotic disorders are discussed under Listing 12.03 of the SSA. The SSA, for instance, considers psychotic disorders that involve delusions, such as hearing voices or seeing things that don't exist. You can see things that aren't there when you have visual hallucinations. Aural hallucinations occur when you hear something that is not there.

To determine eligibility for disability benefits, the SSA uses Listing 12.03 to define psychotic disorders. As outlined in Listing 12.03, you must document the following symptoms to prove that you are disabled. 

Listing 12.03 For Schizophrenia And Other Psychotic Disorders

The SSA's Schizophrenia listing can be found below. All elements under each category must be present to meet the listing. Medical records should include these elements as well as confirmation from your doctor. Ideally, you will be treated for schizophrenia by a psychiatrist. 

12.03 Schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders (see 12.00B2), satisfied by A and B, or A and C:

Part A

  • You need medical documentation for any or all of the following:
  1. Hallucinations or delusions;
  2. Having a disorganized thought process (speech);
  3. Grossly disorganized or catatonic behavior.


Part B

  • The following mental functions are severely restricted in one or both directions (see 12.00F):
  1. Understanding, remembering, or applying information (see 12.00E1).
  2. Engage in interpersonal interactions (see 12.00E2).
  3. Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace (see 12.00E3).
  4. Adapting or managing oneself (see 12.00E4).


Part C

  • There is evidence of a serious and persistent mental disorder in this listing category. At least two years have passed since you were diagnosed, and you have a medically documented history of the disorder.
  1. The provision of ongoing medical care, mental health therapy, psychological support, or other forms of structured care that alleviate your symptoms or signs of mental illness (see 12.00G2b); and
  2. Marginal adjustment describes an individual unable to adjust to changes in their environment or demands that are not already a part of their daily lives (see 12.00G2c).

For Schizophrenia symptoms to meet Listing 12.03, you must have very severe symptoms. An individual with schizophrenia has typically been hospitalized and has received mental health treatment, as you can see. Medication and counseling are typically part of the treatment. A person must have severe symptoms preventing them from attending school or working to be eligible for benefits. Schizophrenia severely impairs the ability to attend social functions, including church services and social gatherings. In addition, you may find it difficult to carry out simple activities of daily living. Cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry on your own is extremely difficult.

Seek Professional Help

The first step in treating schizophrenia is to see a psychiatrist. These are doctors who can prescribe medications to treat mental illness.  Additionally, you should see a psychologist or counselor. Your counselor, psychiatrist, or psychologist will provide the evidence you need for the SSA.

Also, you need to obtain progress notes from your provider. Doctors and counselors write progress notes when they see you. The SSA reviews your medical evidence to determine if you qualify for disability benefits. You will have to provide progress notes and your doctor's opinion to be considered for benefits under listing 12.03.

Treatment For Schizophrenia


Individual Psychotherapy

Psychiatrists and therapists can help you cope with your thoughts and behaviors. By learning about your illness, you will be able to tell what is real and what is not. By doing this you may be able to cope with paranoia. In addition, it may assist you in managing your relationships with others. Find out more about various forms of psychotherapy.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavior therapy can change a person's thinking. Voices and hallucinations can be addressed with the help of a therapist. Eventually, you can determine what triggers your psychotic episodes by using CBT sessions and medication. Furthermore, you may be able to prevent or reduce the episodes.

Specialized Treatment

Coordinated Specialty Care (CSC)

People experiencing their first psychotic episode are likely to suffer from this type of case. Therapy and medication are combined in this type of treatment. It may also include assistance finding employment. The family will also be involved in this type of treatment when possible. This treatment is based on the principle that catching and stopping a disease at the earliest stage is crucial. Getting early treatment for schizophrenia has the best long-term results in coping with the disease.

Assertive Community Treatment (ACT)

People with schizophrenia can receive personal services as part of this type of treatment. In either a work or home setting, you may need assistance taking your medication or interacting with others. ACT professionals help you cope with these daily challenges.

Contact A Social Security Disability Attorney

For your disability case to be successful, you will need the help of an attorney. The attorney will represent your claim and assist you each step of the way. You can get help filling out forms or have them reviewed for you. You can also file an online application and appeal a denial.

In the same way, they will also assist you at a hearing before a disability judge. Before your hearing, they will ensure that the judge has a copy of your medical records. You will then meet with them to discuss your hearing and prepare for the judge's questions. 

Applying for Social Security benefits can be an overwhelming process. If you are interested in seeking SSDI benefits, check out our article on how are Social Security Disability Insurance benefits calculated. To learn more, visit DisabilityHelp.org today!

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Zoey Appleton
Zoey has worked with Cheri for years and has been creating the best articles not only for Disability Help but for our readers. Her job hits close to home for she has a brother with special needs. She hopes to see science and technology pave the way for a better life, with Disability Help to cover it and share it with those that need it.
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