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OCD and Social Security Disability

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a chronic, psychiatric condition that causes obsessive thoughts, ideas or feelings that can only be alleviated by performing a compulsive act. In other words, anxiety builds over the obsession and you can only get rid of the anxiety if you perform the compulsive activity. The cycle of symptoms is constant and uncontrollable and many who suffer from OCD are unable to work as a result of the condition.

Applying for SSD with OCD

OCD is listed in the Social Security Administrations (SSA’s) “Blue Book” under section 12.06, which details anxiety-related disorders. The Blue Book is the SSA’s manual of recognized, potentially disabling conditions. It’s used by the Disability Determination Services (DDS) staff to evaluate claims for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits.

The listing for anxiety-related disorders requires your application and medical documentation show you experience general and lasting anxiety that causes at least three of the following symptoms:

  • Vigilance
  • Physical tension
  • Pronounced apprehension
  • Uncontrolled hyperactivity

Your medical documentation must also prove that you experience recurrent:

  • irrational fears
  • severe panic attacks
  • obsessions and compulsions
  • flashbacks or disruptive memories of trauma

Additionally, to meet the anxiety-related disorders listing, your medical records and SSD application must also show you either cannot function outside of your own home, or that your symptoms cause you to experience at least two of the following limitations.

  • Severe restrictions in performing everyday activities, which the SSA considers Activities of Daily Living (ADL)
  • Pronounced difficulty in social interactions or functioning
  • Difficulty concentrating, maintaining focus, or completing activities or tasks a reasonable pace
  • Extended and recurrent periods where symptoms get worse, which are considered during which “Episodes of Decompensation”

Even if your OCD doesn’t meet these requirements, you may still be found eligibility for SSD benefits, if your symptoms are severe enough to prevent you from seeking and maintaining gainful employment. If you’re approved for benefits without matching the Blue Book listing for anxiety-related disorders, then you’ll receive a “Medical Vocational Allowance”, which essentially means you suffer from an impairment that meets the overall requirements for SSD eligibility, even without meeting a pre-defined listing for a specific condition.

The most crucial component of your SSD application is the medical documentation supporting your claim for benefits. Your medical records must be extensive and clearly show:

  • You’ve been formally diagnosed with OCD by a qualified medical professional.
  • You receive regular treatment from a qualified medical professional, preferably a psychiatrist.
  • You experience the primary symptoms of anxiety-related disorders.
  • You experience recurrent periods of decompensation and other limitations as a result of your condition.

Statements from your psychiatrist and other treating physicians must be included in your claim and should detail your symptoms, how often you experience them, how pronounced they are, and how long they last. Your records must also list any and all medications and other treatments you’ve undergone or are currently using, and should additionally show that your OCD symptoms continue to prevent you from working even when you consistently follow prescribed treatments.

Getting Help with Your OCD SSD Application

Supporting a disability claim can be challenging with any diagnosis, but it’s especially difficult with psychological or psychiatric conditions such as OCD. Substantial medical records and related documentation are required for proving your claim. You’ll need to work closely with your psychiatrist and other physicians in order to collect the appropriate documentation. You may also wish to seek assistance from a Social Security advocate or attorney to improve your chances of being found eligible for SSD benefits.

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