ARE THERE DIFFICULTIES GETTING APPROVED FOR SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS WHEN ALLEGING SCHIZOPHRENIA AND BIPOLAR DISORDER?
In most cases the answer is yes. It appears that disability claims based on mental impairments seem to be treated by the Social Security Administration even more arbitrarily than claims that are based solely on physical impairments.
If you file an application for disability on the basis of one or more mental impairments, prepare for the strong probability of being denied at the initial claim level, and prepare for the likelihood of having to file appeals. However, on the bright side, it should be noted that a large percentage of claims that are brought before Administrative Law Judges at disability hearings are approved, and this is particularly true for represented claimants. The downside to this fact, however, is that the appeals process leading to a hearing can take 1-2 years.
The difficulties you may face, particularly in cases of bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and depression, are that even well-documented and legitimate mental illness cases get denied by Social Security. However, that makes it more imperative that disability claimants who file on the basis of a mental impairment provide substantial documentation in the form of medical records at the very beginning of the application process.
Considering that schizophrenia is listed in SSA’s disability listings is particularly helpful to some Claimants. This means that a person filing for disability can potentially be approved via a medical vocational allowance, a process by which it is shown that they cannot work and earn a substantial and gainful income by meeting the below requirements, via their medical record documentation. Here is the listing that addresses schizophrenia:
12.03 Schizophrenic, paranoid and other psychotic disorders: Characterized by the onset of psychotic features with deterioration from a previous level of functioning. The required level of severity for these disorders is met when the requirements in both A and B are satisfied, or when the requirements in C are satisfied.
A. Medically documented persistence, either continuous or intermittent, of one or more of the following:
1. Delusions or hallucinations; or
2. Catatonic or other grossly disorganized behavior; or
3. Incoherence, loosening of associations, illogical thinking, or poverty of content of speech if associated with one of the following:
a. Blunt affect; or
b. Flat affect; or
c. Inappropriate affect; or
4. Emotional withdrawal and/or isolation; AND
B. Resulting in at least two of the following:
1. Marked restriction of activities of daily living; or
2. Marked difficulties in maintaining social functioning; or
3. Marked difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace; or
4. Repeated episodes of decompensation, each of extended duration; OR
C. Medically documented history of a chronic schizophrenic, paranoid, or other psychotic disorder of at least 2 years’ duration that has caused more than a minimal limitation of ability to do basic work activities, with symptoms or signs currently attenuated by medication or psychosocial support, and one of the following:
1. Repeated episodes of decompensation, each of extended duration; or
2. A residual disease process that has resulted in such marginal adjustment that even a minimal increase in mental demands or change in the environment would be predicted to cause the individual to decompensate; or
3. Current history of 1 or more years’ inability to function outside a highly supportive living arrangement, with an indication of continued need for such an arrangement.
Schizophrenia is a severe brain disorder that affects about 1 percent of Americans. It is a complicated disorder that is commonly treated by antipsychotic drugs, which can alleviate symptoms in some patients, but not cure the disease. While the medical community has known about schizophrenia for a long time, no known cause has been found. Fortunately, new studies may hold the key to finding the genes responsible for proposed glitches in brain development which may inspire new drugs to treat schizophrenia and other neuro-developmental brain disorders. More studies are ongoing. Meanwhile, it is important that your case is evaluated based on the outline of the above listing and if your condition meets the required severity properly. This can be difficult for those suffering from schizophrenia to navigate alone.
If you are disabled due to schizophrenia and in need of assistance navigating the disability process, call one of the experienced disability attorneys at Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. Attorneys at Law today at 251-343-1111 for a free consultation. Gardberg & Kemmerly specialize in helping the injured and disabled.