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New York Disability Lawyer Explains How to Meet a Social Security Listing for Schizophrenia

Social Security disability benefits are not solely confined to physical impairments; benefits are also available to those who are debilitated by mental or psychological illnesses. If you are suffering from schizophrenia, you may be entitled to Social Security disability benefits.

Schizophrenia, which affects about 1% of the American population, is a chronic, severe, and incurable mental disorder characterized by deterioration of thought, perception, emotions, cognitive skills, movement, and the ability to act purposefully. There are several types of schizophrenia: disorganized, catatonic, residual, undifferentiated, and paranoid.

Schizophrenia is listed in the Social Security Listing of Impairments under Listing 12.03. If your condition is found to be severe enough to “meet” or “equal” the listing for schizophrenia, you will automatically be deemed disabled and qualified for Social Security disability benefits. To meet the listing, you must satisfy Parts A and B or just Part C.

Part A lists persistent abnormalities that include delusions or hallucinations; catatonic or other grossly disorganized behavior; incoherence, loosening of associations, illogical thinking, or poverty of content of speech; or emotional withdrawal and/or isolation.

If your condition satisfies the requirement of Part A, then your impairment must be characterized by at least two of the requirements of Part B for you to meet the listing:

  1. Marked limitation of daily activities;
  2. Marked trouble maintaining social functions;
  3. Marked struggle in concentration, persistence, or pace; or
  4. Recurring, extended episodes of decompensation.

Because this information is difficult for a trained psychiatrist to observe over time,  usually it is necessary a to have evidence of your ability to function comes from your family members or caregivers who see you on a day-to-day basis.

Even if you do not qualify under Parts A and B, you will automatically meet a Listing for schizophrenia if you satisfy Part C by providing a medically documented history of chronic schizophrenia that has lasted for at least two years and has affected your ability to do work on more than a minimal level, even after medication and treatment. You must also prove one of the following:

  1. Recurring, extended episodes of decompensation;
  2. A residual disease process where the claimant’s mental state is so fragile that even a minimal increase in stressful conditions or mental demands will cause decompensation; or
  3. An ongoing history of one or more years of being unable to function outside of a highly supporting living arrangement, plus a demonstrated need for continuing this arrangement.

If you’ve initially been denied Social Security benefits, don’t give up hope. With the help of an experienced New York disability lawyer, you still have a good chance of winning your benefits at the hearing level. Contact dedicated New York disability lawyer Herbert Forsmith today for a free initial evaluation of your claim.