Can I get disability benefits if I am suffering from the effects of Psychosis?
You could possibly get disability benefits for Psychosis, there are many factors involved.
Author Attorney Lloyd Bemis:
Psychosis is recognized as an impairment in Social Security’s Blue Book under Section 12.03, a listing that includes schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders. Schizophrenia is the most common disorder in this category, but other mental disorders are included in this listing, such as schizoaffective disorder, delusional disorder, brief psychotic disorder and substance induced psychosis.
Approximately three out of 100 people will have a psychotic episode at some point in their lives, though actually less than one percent of people in the United States suffer from a psychotic disorder.
Psychosis is a condition where a person loses touch with reality and experiences the world differently from other people. It can be a one-time experience or linked to other conditions and usually affects people for the first time in their late teens or early adulthood.
Even before the first psychotic episode (known as an FEP) occurs, a person may show changes in the way they think or act.
This is called the prodomal period and can last days, weeks, months, or even years. In many cases psychosis is connected to a primary mental disorder such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, but it can also be caused by an illness, substance abuse, stress, or trauma. Episodes resulting from drug use or a medical condition usually disappear quickly and do not return, provided the original disease is treated.
The first signs of psychosis begin gradually with changes in the ways a person understands and thinks about the world.
Some changes in behavior that you or others might notice include a drop in grades or job performance, uneasiness when around others, and expressing stronger emotions than situations call for or no emotions at all.
Other symptoms of early psychosis include:
- Hearing, seeing, or tasting things other people don’t;
- Inability to pay attention or think clearly;
- Inability to understand new information;
- Memory problems;
- Distancing oneself from family and friends;
- Difficulty making decisions; and
- Neglecting personal care.
Hallucinations and delusions are common examples of psychotic episodes.
In addition to the symptoms above, a person may feel someone touching them who is not there. They may also hold on to beliefs that feel real to them, but make no sense to others. These beliefs are not the same as religious or spiritual beliefs; for example, a person might believe that they have special powers or that someone is going to harm them.
Contact a Social Security disability attorney at 512-454-4000 for a free consultation and see if you can get disability benefits while suffering from a form of psychosis. If you have been denied disability don’t give up!
Doctors don’t know exactly what causes psychosis, but it can be linked to a variety of risk factors:
- Genetics. You may have the genes for psychosis, but that does not mean you will develop the condition.
- Injuries and illnesses such as traumatic brain injuries and neurological conditions such as dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
- Drug or alcohol abuse. Drugs that are used to treat mental illness may also cause problems.
- Emotional trauma such as the death of a loved one, war, or sexual assault.
- An underlying mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
- Other medical conditions such as female hormonal shifts (menstrual psychosis), postictal psychosis (occurs in epilepsy when a person has a number of seizures in a row) and myxedematous psychosis (a type of hypothyroidism).
Psychosis is diagnosed by a psychiatrist or psychologist who will look for the cause of symptoms and related conditions.
Treatment involves anti-psychotic drugs, psychotherapy and hospitalization if the person is at risk to others or themselves.
Qualifying for Disability Benefits for Psychosis
Psychosis is recognized as an impairment in Social Security’s Blue Book under Section 12.03, a listing that includes schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders.
Schizophrenia is the most common disorder in this category, but other mental disorders are included in this listing, such as schizoaffective disorder, delusional disorder, brief psychotic disorder and substance induced psychosis. To qualify for SSDI you must be able to provide medical documentation of a psychotic disorder that has existed for at least two years. You must also show that your condition limits your ability to function in a work environment so severely that you are unable to work.
To be eligible for SSDI under a diagnosis of psychosis, you must provide:
- Medical documentation of one or more of the following:
- Delusions or hallucinations; or
- Disorganized thinking (speech); or
- Grossly disorganized behavior or catatonia.
- Extreme limitation of one, or marked limitation of two, of the following areas of mental functioning. Social Security defines “marked” as less than extreme, but worse than moderate.
- Understanding, remembering, or applying information. For example, being able to understand instructions and learn new skills.
- Interacting with others in a socially appropriate manner.
- Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace; the ability to complete tasks.
- Adapting or managing oneself. Understanding acceptable work performance, being aware of safety hazards, wearing appropriate attire, and maintaining personal hygiene.
- Evidence that your mental disorder is “serious and persistent. This means you have a medically documented history of the existence of the disorder over a period of at least 2 years,
- You are receiving medical treatment, mental health therapy, psychosocial support(s), or you are living in a highly structured setting which diminishes the symptoms and signs of your mental disorder; and
- You have minimal ability to adapt to changes in your environment or to demands that are not already part of your daily life.
Social Security acknowledges that there are some people who do not meet the criteria of the listing because they live in a supervised situation, such as a hospital or nursing home, where their functional limitations appear better than if they lived on their own where the stress of daily life would be greater.
Social Security is more interested in a person’s functional limitations than a specific psychotic diagnosis.
An applicant must be able to prove they can’t work even though they are following treatment. Some applicants who suffer from psychosis and do not meet the requirements of the listing are still unable to hold any job. These applicants may not exhibit the stereotyped symptoms of psychosis, such as hearing voices, but they are unable to maintain organized thought patterns or have difficulty with social interactions. If an applicant can prove that their impairment is ongoing and is so severe it prevents them from performing even unskilled labor, they may qualify for SSDI on the basis of a medical-vocational allowance.
Applicants who suffer from a complex mental disorder like psychosis should consult an experienced disability attorney.
Because a person with psychosis frequently experiences difficulty with concentration, memory, and dysfunctional thought patterns, they may not be capable of representing themselves. A qualified disability lawyer can obtain medical records and physician statements and manage appeals and hearings, making a positive result much more likely.
In order to qualify for Social Security Disability, you will need to satisfy a few specific requirements in two categories as determined by the Social Security Administration.
The first category is the Work Requirements which has two tests.
- The Duration of Work test. Whether you have worked long enough to be covered under SSDI.
- The Current Work Test. Whether you worked recently enough for the work to actually count toward coverage.
The second category is the Medical Eligibility Requirement.
- Are you working? Your disability must be “total”.
- Is your medical condition severe? Your disability must be “severe” enough to interfere with your ability to perform basic work-related activities, such as walking, sitting, and remembering.
- Is your medical condition on the List of Impairments? The SSA has a “List of Impairments” that automatically qualify as “severe” disabilities. If your disease is not listed this does not mean you cannot get disability, it means you must prove you cannot maintain employment due to your limitations.
- Can you do the work you did before? SSDI rules look at whether your medical condition prevents you from doing the work you did prior to developing the condition.
- Can you do any other type of work? If you cannot do your prior work, an evaluation is made as to whether you can perform any other kind of work.
More details can be found on our Qualifying for Disability page.
Disability benefits are an important source of income for those who are unable to work. If you are not able to work due to accident or illness, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability or Long Term Disability benefits. If you have applied for benefits and been denied, contact the attorneys at Bemis, Roach and Reed for a free consultation. Call 512-454-4000 and get help NOW.
Author: Attorney Lloyd Bemis has been practicing law for over 35 years. He is Superlawyers rated by Thomson Reuters and is Top AV Preeminent® and Client Champion Gold rated by Martindale Hubbell. Through his extensive litigation Mr. Bemis obtained dual board certifications from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Lloyd is admitted to practice in the United States District Court – all Texas Districts and has argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit. Mr. Bemis is a member of the Travis County Bar Association. He has been active in the American Association for Justice and is a past Director of the Capital Area Trial Lawyers Association. Mr. Bemis and all the members of Bemis, Roach & Reed have been active participants in the Travis County Lawyer referral service.
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