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calculating, careful, money, schizophrenia, psychosis, mental health

Life Needs





Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance


Both Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance provide financial assistance to persons disgnosed with schizophrenia. Both are provided by the Social Security administration. Here is a breakdown of the two programs, eligibility, and how to apply.


Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal program to help individuals who can’t work because they have been diagnosed with schizophrenia by a doctor. The individual must have an income which is no more than $710 per month based on counted income, and a resource limit of $2,000; or, for a couple, $3,000. Children can also get access to SSI, if they have severe functional limitations because a doctor has diagnosed them with schizophrenia. The child must be unmarried and not be the head of a household; however, there is no minimum age requirement. The parent has to be income eligible.


Applicants need the following documents and proof to apply for SSI:


  • Social Security Card or Number

  • Proof of Age (like a Birth Certificate)

  • Citizenship or Alien Status Record (like a Birth Certificate or US Passport)

  • Proof of Income

  • Proof of Resources

  • Proof of Living Arrangements

  • Medical Sources (Records showing a diagnosis)

  • Work History


It usually takes a few months to go through the applications process. The government needs the original documents, so keep copies of everything you send out. Also, keep track of the names,dates and places/phone numbers when you speak to Social Security.



Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is designed to help individuals who have worked at jobs covered by Social Security and are currently unable to work due to schizophrenia. An individual must have worked at jobs covered by Social Security, and have accumulated a certain number of credits earned through wages and work history. Benefits are also payable to certain family members (such as spouse, divorced spouse, children, disabled child, or adult disabled child before age 22).


Applicants can apply for benefits in a telephone interview (taking about an hour). To cut the interview time in half, applicants can fill out two forms online ( Here is a checklist of the information you will need for the two separate forms:


Disability Application:


  • Dates of marriages and divorces

  • Names and dates of birth of your minor children and your spouse

  • Military Service discharge information for all periods of active duty

  • W-2 form from last year

  • Checking or savings account number and bank routing number if you use Direct Deposit for your benefit checks


Disability Report:


  • Name, address, and phone number of someone Social Security can contact who knows about your medical condition and can help with your claim

  • Names, addresses, phone numbers, patient ID numbers and dates of treatment for all doctors, hospitals, and clinics (Refer to Medical records)

  • Names of medicines you are taking and who prescribed them (Have medicine bottles available)

  • Names and dates of medical tests you’ve had and who has authorized them

  • A list of jobs (up to 5) you’ve had in the 15 years prior to you being unable to work (helpful to include dates at jobs)

  • Information about any insurance or worker’s compensation claims you filed


It usually takes around 3 to 5 months to come to a decision. Employees at the Social Security office can help you make photocopies of documents, and work on your application.



                           Supplemental Needs Trust


A Supplemental Needs Trust (SNT) is a trust designed specifically to benefit an individual with a disability. It allows an individual with schizophrenia to have an unlimited amount of assets in the trust that do not count as assets for purposes of qualifying for government programs (such as SSI, Medicaid, vocational rehabilitation, subsidized housing, etc). Money in the trust is also protected if the disabled individual is ever sued. The beneficiary, however, does not have direct control of the money in the trust. The money can be used to supplement those basic things that the government benefits cover.


If the trust is set up with the individual's own money, called a self settled trust, then, upon the individual's death, money paid for by Medicaid during the person's life must be paid back out of the trust. In contrast, if the trust is set up with money from any person other than the beneficiary, Medicaid funds need not be paid back from the trust.


An SNT can be set up by a parent, grandparent, guardian, or a court. An individual trust needs to be set up for each individual with schizophrenia within a family. An SNT can be created any time before the disabled beneficiary’s 65th birthday. The terms and language of a Supplemental Needs Trust are very important. While a lay person could create an SNT without a lawyer, by using, for instance NOLO, where you can buy an SNT do it yourself package, it is probably prudent for most people to retain a lawyer, particularly one who specializes in Special Needs issues, to create the SNT.


For more information, you can visit:



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