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Schizophrenia, homelessness and social security disability

According to the Social Security Administration, California residents who have a serious mental disorder are particularly vulnerable to homelessness. In fact, according to one study, just 16 percent of the total U.S.A. population lives with a disability, compared with nearly 40 percent of the homeless populace. While assistance is often available to these individuals, the nature of one's illness often prevents one from qualifying or applying for financial aid. Two mental conditions that make applying for government assistance difficult include schizoaffective disorder and schizophrenia. The two conditions together affect approximately one in 100 individuals.

Technically speaking, individuals of the schizophrenic population should be eligible for supplemental security income or social security disability. However, because of the nature of their impairment, inflicted individuals often face many obstacles to completing the SSI or SSD applications. For an applicant to qualify for SSA assistance, he or she must present thorough evidence in the form of doctors' reports, psychological evaluations, CT scans and other forms of medical documentation.

To determine how schizophrenia affects the rate of homelessness, the SSA conducted a study which it named the Homeless with Schizophrenia Presumptive Disability (HSPD) pilot. The study sought to determine a correlation between homelessness and schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. What the SSA found was that homeless persons with the purported disorders often have intermittent, incomplete and inaccurate medical histories. Moreover, because of their homeless nature, they lack a safe place to keep their medical records, documentation and identification, all of which are necessary to apply for SSI. Together, each of these complications makes otherwise eligible individuals ineligible for support.

Disability Benefits Help outlines what one must prove to qualify for benefits based on a mental disorder. An individual must be able to prove that he or she experiences hallucinations or delusions, demonstrates disorganized or catatonic behavior, displays a pattern of illogical thinking and often withdraws from social interaction. He or she must also prove, through thorough documentation, that the symptoms limit or make impossible his or her ability to engage in everyday activities and to maintain gainful employment. Additionally, the SSA requires proof that the condition has lasted for at least two years.

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