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Filing for disability with Schizophrenia

There's a reason why most claimants will benefit from representation on a social security disability or SSI claim. And that reason is the simple fact that the criteria for disability can be fairly complex. In this post, I'll demonstrate how complex it can be for those individuals who are applying for disability on the basis of schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia is addressed in the social security administration's impairment listing manual (the blue book) in Listing 12.03, titled Schizophrenic, Paranoid, and Other Psychotic Disorders. The actual reading of the listing is fairly extended, but it can be summarized as follows.

To qualify for disability benefits by either meeting or equaling the specifications of listing 12.03, a disability applicant's records must show the existence of intermittent or continuous--

A) delusions or hallucinations


B) catatonic or other grossly disorganized behavior


C) A state of llogical thinking, incoherence, loosening of associations, or poverty of content of speech (associated with either a blunt, flat, or inappropriate display of mood or affect)


D) Emotional withdrawal and/or isolation

For a claimant to satisfy the requirements of listing 12.03, their records must also indicate that at least two of the following apply:

A) Markedly restricted daily activities;

B) Marked restrictions in maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace;

C) Marked restriction in the ability to maintain social functioning;

D) Extended and repeated episodes of decompensation;

Now, if a disability applicant does not qualify for disability on the basis of the aforementioned criteria, then listing 12.03 also sets forth the following criteria by which an individual may be approved if they have schizophrenia. In this second set of criteria, a claimant must be able to show ---

A) A medically documented history of a psychotic disorder (schizophrenia, paranoid, or other) that has lasted at least 2 years and has resulted in a limitation of the ability to do basic work activities.

B) The medical history must show the existence of repeated and extended episodes of decompensation or the existence of the inability to function outside a highly supportive living arrangement for at least one full year or the existence of a residual disease process whose effects are far-reaching enough that even a minimal increase in mental demands, or even a minimal change in environment, would be predicted to cause the individual to decompensate.

Listing 12.03 (Schizophrenic, Paranoid, and Other Psychotic Disorders) can seem fairly complicated. And it is. Even disability examiners who have handled hundreds of psychotic disorder cases need to refer to the impairment listing manual each time they evaluate a case involving schizophrenia. Because the listing is detailed enough to require it.

Because the listing approval requirements for many conditions are this complex (or more complex), claimants who go to disability hearings before federal administrative law judges without representation will generally be at a disadvantage versus represented claimants.

Of course, satisfying the requirements of a listing is not the only way to get approved for disability. Most applicants actually get approved via a Medical Vocational Allowance.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Related pages:

Can You Get disability if have a mental condition but do not take medication?
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition?
Social Security Disability and SSI Mental Claims and Criteria
Social Security Disability, back pain, and sedentary, light, and medium work
Social Security Disability, SSI, and low IQ
Applying for disability with Schizophrenia
Can I get disability for Rheumatoid arthritis?
Social Security Disability, SSI, and autoimmune disorders
Can you get disability for ankylosing spondylitis?

Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

These pages provide answers to basic questions about pursuing disability benefits

Disability qualifications - Who will qualify is based on functional limitations
What do you Need to Prove to Qualify for Disability Benefits?
How to file for disability and the information needed by Social Security
What conditions do they Award Disability Benefits for?
How does back pay for Social Security disability work?
What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI? Part I
To get a Social Security Disability or SSI Award do you have to have a Permanent Disability?
Social Security Disability Status - when should I call to check
Do Lawyers Improve The Chances of Winning Social Security Disability or SSI?
What is qualifying for disability based on?
How to qualify for disability - The Process of Qualifying for Benefits
Receiving a Social Security Disability Award Letter
How long does it take to get disability?
Filing and applying for disability in Texas