Despite tremendous advancements in the understanding of mental illness, many people still do not think of these conditions in the context of disability.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, nearly 1.5 million adults in North Carolina live with a mental illness, and around 356,000 have a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia.
What is schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a serious disorder that affects how a person experiences reality. People with schizophrenia may experience delusions and visual or auditory hallucinations. While these may not make sense to others, they are real to the person experiencing them, and they can affect the person just like a real event.
The DSM-5 lists five characteristics of schizophrenia:
- Disorganized speech
- Disorganized behavior
- Negative symptoms, such as lack of emotional expression
Not everyone with schizophrenia experiences all of the symptoms.
Untreated schizophrenia can contribute to other conditions and problems, such as anxiety, substance abuse and suicide.
Antipsychotic medication is the most common treatment. If taking a daily pill is difficult, biweekly or monthly injections may be an option.
Therapy and social support are essential and may include individual and family counseling or job training.
Can you get SSD benefits if you have schizophrenia?
To be eligible for SSD benefits, you must have medical documentation of your schizophrenia symptoms and meet the requirements.
You may be eligible for disability benefits if your symptoms affect your ability to:
- Understand or remember information
- Interact with other people
- Concentrate on tasks
- Adapt to changes
You might also qualify for benefits if you have received treatment for two years or more with minimal improvement.
Even with treatment, schizophrenia can be a serious disability. If you live with this disorder, you may be able to receive disability benefits to improve your quality of life.