Obsessive-compulsive disorder is widely misunderstood. Unfortunately, people who do not experience the condition often claim to “have a little OCD” without any idea how debilitating the true symptoms of OCD actually are. For those who have received a medical diagnosis, life may become more bearable with medication and psychotherapy. Even so, it may be hard to work. In this circumstance, it may be possible to get Social Security Disability Benefits.
But while the Social Security Administration(SSA) recognizes many psychological conditions as disabilities, there are many stages before you are approved for benefits. Here’s a little bit about what you need to know, and how a lawyer can help you get support.
What is OCD?
OCD is characterized by two main symptoms: obsession and compulsion. Not everyone with OCD has both, but most do. Obsession includes unwanted thoughts that cause distress. Examples include the need for order, symmetry, fear of contamination, self-harm, or aggressive, unwanted thoughts.
Compulsion means being driven to do certain things. They may temporarily relieve the anxiety but do not bring satisfaction. People with OCD may compulsively wash their hands, clean, ensure orderliness, and follow specific routines. The Mayo Clinic says this is not mere desire for perfection, but a serious condition that can affect daily life.
What Qualifies for SSD?
If you have been diagnosed with OCD, you may qualify for SSD benefits. The SSA classifies this as an anxiety disorder. In order to meet the SSA criteria for OCD disability, you must have an extreme limitation in one of these four areas, or a marked limitation in two:
- Learning or remembering information;
- Appropriate social interaction;
- Task concentration and completion;
- Behavior or emotional management, self-care and adapting to change.
Some people are already being treated for OCD, and therefore, their environment is already highly structured. If so, it may be possible to show the SSA that this prevents you from being able to work in a new environment. If you are able to demonstrate that your OCD is severe, you may be listed as “disabled,” and receive benefits.
However, many people with legitimate OCD may not meet the SSA’s criteria. In that case, you can still show your condition is limiting enough that you are unable to work. Under the “medical-vocational allowance,” you can get benefits even if you do not meet that strict definition.
Getting benefits under the allowance means looking at your medical records and the work you can do, according to your residual functional capacity form. Of course, this is highly complicated for anyone. A disability lawyer can take over the application process for you, to make sure the process is as smooth as possible.
What is a Compassionate Allowance?
Some people clearly meet the SSA’s definition of “disabled.” For those individuals, the SSA can approve a fast-tracked process for benefit applications. This is particularly helpful for people who find the application process daunting. Compassionate allowance is not available to everyone. Your lawyer can talk you through this option and whether it is right for you.
Who Can Help Me?
Almost by definition, someone living with a disability is already facing challenges. It is not easy to have the added burden of a long, detailed application process for disability benefits. A disability lawyer can help you to navigate the system. At The Good Law Group, we have been helping people with their SSD applications and appeals for more than 30 years. We can help you, too. Contact us today to learn more.