Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Disability benefits?


I live in Washington state and I was wondering if it’s difficult to get disability benefits when you have schizophrenia at 24. My son is not able to work at all. I can’t even imagine a job interview and what that would look like at this point. Does anyone know, is it a long process? Is it hard to get approved? Do you know about how much they get if they do get approved? I’m hoping he can someday live on his own but I’m sure without help, he won’t be able to. Thank you.


My son also has schizophrenia and could not work and I got his disability set up for him when he was 22. I think it goes much faster with an experienced Social Security attorney (just my opinion) Amounts are different in every state. Maybe this link will help-good luck!


My daughter is 33 years old and was diagnosed with schizophrenia when she was 19 years old. With the help of the hospital we got her hooked up with a social worker, psychiatrist and service coordinator. It was her social worker who helped her fill out the paperwork. It was rejected once but the second time it was approved. Does your son receive mental health care services? If so they can help and understand the paperwork. A lot less expense than hiring an attorney.


Thank you, Catherine. I’ll check out the link and the price of an attorney.


Thanks, Molly. He does receive mental health care services. I’ve started the paperwork rolling but I’ll check with his psychiatrist and counselor and see if they or someone in the clinic could help us from here. I’m not sure if we can afford an attorney, but checking into it is free I suppose. Thanks for the feedback.


@JulieAnn You won’t have to pay anything for the attorney if it is an attorney that specializes in Social Security benefits, because they just take about 27% of the retro pay from Social Security- which is whatever your son would have gotten per month from the date of diagnosis…whatever that is whether it is $100 or $1000’s they take about 27% and that is it-a one time payment and they are paid in full–but in my experience it is worth it because the wait time is so much shorter, they will say it could take 18-24 months but I think they have to say that–I know at least a half a dozen people here that were told that and had a check in less than 6 months. :seedling:


Thank you for that information. That’s great to know and it sounds like the best way to go. I’ll check around tomorrow and see I can find him an attorney who specializes in SS. It would help a lot to have someone who is familiar with the process. Great info! Thx.


@JulieAnn you are very welcomed! :slight_smile:


I did not need an attorney to get SSI started for my son. My son had multiple hospitalizations in the previous year, and all the doctors provided letters.


Good to know how everyone else got it done. I talked to the doc about it today and he gave me some info as well. Thx.


My son is schitzoaffective and got approved for ssdi at 27 after we hired a social security disability lawyer. Got approved the first time they applied.


Thank you! I’m looking into it now. You didn’t have to pay for your lawyer?



1st thing apply for disability with Social Security today, so that the application clock starts. 2nd thing find and retire an advocate lawyer, interview several of them tell them your story, bring medical records, Dr. appointments, hospitalization records, police records etc. to the interview. This does not cost you any money out of pocket. The advocate lawyer only gets paid if your son receives Social Security benefits and that is a state mandated/regulated percentage.


My son, now 25, also has schizophrenia. If you document all the doctors he has seen (with dates) and submit that with the SSI application, that helps. They will make their determination with one of their docs too of the diagnosis. I applied and it took 9 months for the final determination. He got about $773. Back pay comes when they award it- in 2 chunks. You need to document how much you help him with monthly room and board expenses every month and that offsets the $773- go figure as no one can live on $773 alone. He likely can’t qualify for SSDI as he does not have much work history of his own- so you will likely get a SSDI rejection letter first. Go to the SS website and read the booklets. A bit confusing…but they will answer your questions with a phone call to them. Call early and be prepared to be on hold a lot. I was surprised my son was first diagnosed at before age 23 and when he dad retired and started to collect SS - my son was able to get SSDI payments of $1233 after we made an additional application. This is a benefit because his dad retired. Good to know even if it is a few years out. You do not need a lawyer- just patience.
Good luck to you both!


All very good information. Thank you for explaining it so well. I’m taking it all in and he’s applied so the first step is done. I guess I missed out on submitting doc dates, etc., with it but I’m going to gather it all and contact them to see if I can’t add to it. Thanks for the tip on the SS website and booklets. I’ll read that as well. I’ve already spent an hour and a half on the phone with them once: One hour on hold, 1/2 hour for them to look up and tell me they had my application. Haha. We’ll get there. Thanks again and I hope your son is doing well.


You are welcome. We all had to learn “the system” that is there to help us. My sister has an autistic daughter and was very helpful. NAMI also has experienced family members to support you through the process. It is a process- no overnight answers. I open his file I keep once a month and see if I can make progress on something… but it does get overwhelming sometimes. We are the key to their success… there is no way our ill family members can navigate through all of this, Hang in there!


Yes, it does get overwhelming. He was diagnosed this year so I’m very new and learning something every day. It’s so overwhelming. I’m just now getting to the point where I actually have days that I don’t cry! Progress for me! You’ve given me some good tips that I will use. Thank you for supporting me and all the info!


I think the key is to document well all his visits and hospitalizations - every Doctor that saw him and their contact information we did this for my son and he was approved on first go around though we were told to expect to have to appeal


Great advice! I think I’ve done a pretty good job of that and will continue. Glad you were accepted on first go-around. Thanks.