Researchers in Boston are part of an international consortium that has recently discovered an underlying biological link between a handful of psychiatric illnesses, including schizophrenia, autism and depression.
This breakthrough research gets us one step closer to determining which genetic variants cause these conditions, and how we may be able to better treat them.
In the meantime, our Boston Social Security Disability Insurance attorneys want to make sure that sufferers of schizophrenia – and these other conditions as well – know that they may be eligible to receive federal benefits. For many, this could very well be a way out of poverty, a ticket out of a potential cycle of homelessness, crime and institutions.
Of course, your eligibility may depend on how consistent you are in taking your doctor-prescribed medication. There is no cure for schizophrenia, but medical treatment programs have proven effective in quelling some of the most severe symptoms.
However, the disease itself may be a limitation to an individual taking their medication with any regularity. And as this new research shows, we have a long way to go in terms of eliminating the barriers that these individuals must endure in an effort to live happy, stable lives. When medication is not fully effective – or when that medication poses debilitating side effects on its own – disability benefits are an important consideration.
In some cases, schizophrenia may develop suddenly and without much warning. In other cases, there is a gradual decline in function that foreshadows the first major episode.
Early on, sufferers might seem somewhat eccentric, reclusive or unmotivated. They may appear to lack emotions or be increasingly forgetful or say odd things or express a general indifference to life. They may find themselves suffering from insomnia, depression or inappropriate expressions of both joy and grief.
Part of the problem for many schizophrenia sufferers is that when they first begin to experience these symptoms, they try to mask it with substance abuse, which not only compound the issue but make it tougher to get a true diagnosis and treatment. Sometimes, those with schizophrenia may be wrongly diagnosed with other disorders. Often, it takes six months or more to even get an accurate diagnosis.
This ends up not only straining relationships, as close loved ones struggle to understand or help, but it is truly an impairment on every day functioning. Persons with schizophrenia may find they have trouble completing even basic tasks such as eating, bathing or running simple errands. They are also at a heightened risk of suicide.
Once the disease becomes more developed, it is usually manifested through delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech or behavior or a lack of interest or enthusiasm about the world around them.
The Social Security Administration, under Section 12.03 Schizophrenic, paranoid or other psychotic disorders, holds that in order to qualify for benefits, these episodes must be severe, debilitating and frequent.
If an individual has been coping with this disease on their own for at least two years or if they have shown an inability throughout the last year to function outside of some highly-supported living arrangement (either an institution or with watchful parents, etc.) then he or she would qualify.
If you are considering filing for SSDI in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.
Autism, schizophrenia, and other psychiatric disorders share genetic underpinnings, Feb. 27, 2013, By Carolyn Y. Johnson, Boston Globe
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