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Is Paranoid Schizophrenia a Disability?

The designation “paranoid schizophrenia” was dropped from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) when the fifth version of that reference book was published in 2013. However, many people still use this term on an informal basis as a synonym for schizophrenia, such as when asking, is paranoid schizophrenia a disability?

If you or a loved one are struggling with Schizophrenia, Arbor Wellness can help. Call us now at 629-217-2658 or verify your insurance now.

Is Paranoid Schizophrenia a Disability?

There is little doubt that schizophrenia can undermine a person’s ability to work, attend school, maintain healthy relationships, and otherwise fully engage in a productive and satisfying lifestyle. But is paranoid schizophrenia a disability?

Though this looks like a simple question, answering it can be a bit more complex than you might expect. This is primarily due to the fact that “disability” may be defined differently depending on how the term is being used.

Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)

The ADA became law in July 1990. The purpose of this legislation is to ensure that people with disabilities are not discriminated against when applying for jobs, purchasing goods and services, or participating in government programs.

According to the ADA, a person is considered to have a disability if they meet one of the following three criteria:

  • Having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits their ability to function in one or more major life activities
  • Having a history or record of a physical or mental impairment that is in remission
  • Being perceived by other people as having an impairment (such as someone who has severe, obvious scarring as the result of a fire)

Schizophrenia clearly meets these criteria. But what does this mean for someone who has this condition? It would be virtually impossible to discuss all facets of the ADA in one post, so we’ll focus on some of the employment protections that the law provides.

Under the ADA, employers that have 15 or more employees cannot refuse to hire someone, deny them a promotion, or fire them because they are disabled, as long as the person can perform the functions of the job with reasonable accommodations.

Reasonable accommodations can include modifying the employee’s work schedule, adjusting training materials or policies, providing or adapting certain devices, and making the workplace more accessible.

For someone with schizophrenia to challenge an employer’s actions under this part of the ADA, they would need to prove the following:

  • That they have a covered disability (which, as we established earlier, they do)
  • That they can perform all essential duties of a specific job, either with or without reasonable accommodations
  • That their employer or potential employer has taken an adverse action against them solely on the basis of their disability

For additional information about employment protections and other aspects of the ADA for people who have schizophrenia, visit the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) website or the ADA site.

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Social Security Disability Programs

The Social Security Administration (SSA) manages two programs that provide funding to people who cannot work as a result of a physical or mental disability:

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): To qualify for this program, you must have a disability that prevents you from working for a year or longer. You must also have worked for at least five of the previous 10 years.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI): This program offers monthly payments to people who have a disability or who are age 65 or older, and who also have little to no income or resources.

Is paranoid schizophrenia a disability for the purposes of the two SSA-managed programs? Yes, it is. However, it is important to note that each of these programs have additional criteria, beyond having a diagnosis of a qualifying disability:

  • For someone with schizophrenia to receive SSDI, they must have a somewhat substantial work history. If they can’t provide documentation of employment for at least five of the past 10 years, they won’t qualify for SSDI.
  • For a person with schizophrenia to receive money through the SSI program, they must also be able to demonstrate that they have low to no income as well as limited resources. People who receive other disability funds, unemployment payments, or pensions – or who live with someone who pays for their food and shelter – may not be eligible for SSI.

Disabled Person License Plates and Parking Placards

License plates, parking placards, and other vehicle-related matters are typically handled on the state level. While we can’t confirm the laws of all 50 states, we are fairly certain that this is one area where the question, “is paranoid schizophrenia a disability” is likely to be no.

For example, in Tennessee, which is home to Arbor Wellness, a person must meet one of the following criteria to qualify for disabled driver or passenger license plates:

  • Uses a wheelchair
  • Can walk, but only with difficulty or uncertainty
  • Has 20/200 vision or worse, even while wearing corrective lenses
  • Is the parent or legal guardian of someone who is permanently disabled and cannot operate a motor vehicle.

To determine if schizophrenia or other mental health concerns qualify you for access to certain driving or parking benefits, you should contact the Department of Motor Vehicles or a similar agency in your state.

Find Treatment for Paranoid Schizophrenia in Nashville

If you have been living with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, or another complex mental health concern, Arbor Wellness is here to help.

Our mental health treatment center in Nashville, Tennessee, offers a full continuum of customized care, including residential treatment, a partial hospitalization program (PHP), and an intensive outpatient program (IOP). We also offer specialized services for military veterans and young adults.

When you choose to heal at Arbor Wellness, you can work with a team of highly skilled and compassionate professionals. We will take the time to get to know you as a unique and valuable individual, so that we can understand the full scope of your needs and provide the focused services that will help you achieve the best possible quality of life.

To learn more or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our Admissions page or call us today.