9366984_mSchizophrenia is a complex neurological disorder that can affect victims in a multitude of ways. Treatment may offer relief from some symptoms, but the condition is often disabling, as victims can lose their sense of reality and their investment in normal activities. People coping with schizophrenia in Chicago may struggle to hold jobs, maintain relationships and care for themselves.

Disruptive symptoms

Victims of schizophrenia frequently suffer from hallucinations, delusions and other psychotic behaviors. Hallucinations include sights, “voices” and other sensations that are not real. Delusions are entrenched false beliefs the victim maintains even after someone proves the belief is illogical or false.

Schizophrenia can also cause subtler cognitive issues. Victims may have trouble connecting their thoughts in logical ways. Victims can experience issues remembering new information, focusing and making decisions. Finally, victims may struggle to start or plan activities, find enjoyment in daily life and express themselves.

These symptoms can promote other emotional problems, such as depression and anxiety. They also can prevent victims from engaging with others, carrying out cognitive tasks and functioning independently.

Medications can relieve some of these symptoms. However, antipsychotic medications can also have various adverse effects, including:

  • Physical symptoms, including drowsiness, dizziness, blurred vision, sun sensitivity and rapid heartbeat
  • Movement issues, including spasms or tremors, rigidity and restlessness
  • Weight gain and metabolic changes, which may cause other health problems

Maintaining normal, healthy function can be difficult even for victims who take medication. Other treatments, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, may help victims better manage their symptoms, but these treatments are not effective for every case.

Cases of disablement

If a person’s schizophrenia is so severe that he or she cannot work, applying for Social Security Disability benefits is an option. Schizophrenia is a Social Security Administration impairment listing, so if victims meet certain criteria, they qualify for benefits.

An individual may qualify by exhibiting specific symptoms. First, the individual must suffer from psychotic symptoms, disorganized physical or mental behavior, incoherency or social withdrawal. These symptoms must cause two of the following issues: decompensation, inability to focus and complete tasks, difficulty maintaining relationships or struggles with daily self-care routines.


Alternately, an individual may meet three broader criteria. First, the disorder must last at least two years and adversely affect the individual’s ability to work. Second, the individual must experience episodes of decompensation or be at risk for an episode if personal living circumstances change. Third, the individual must rely on a supportive assisted living arrangement.

Providing adequate documentation and proof of disabling conditions such as mental disorders is notoriously difficult. People with these conditions should consider working with a Social Security Disability lawyer when applying for benefits.