OCD & DISABILITY BENEFITS
WHAT IS OBSESSSIVE-COMPULSIVE DISORDER (OCD)?
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental condition in which a person has overwhelming obsessions and compulsions. Obsessive thoughts do not just occur every once in awhile. Instead, if you have OCD, then you have constant thought and feelings that you do not want to have. Likewise, the compulsions that occur when you have OCD are unwelcome thoughts and actions. For example, a person with OCD may perform the same task multiple times in an hour or in a day because they feel driven to repeat the task. They will do this even though they know they have already done the task and they don’t need to do it again. Or, they will do it because they think if they don’t do it something bad might happen.
Some examples of obsessive thoughts include feeling like doors or windows are not locked. And therefore, they locks need to be checked over and over again. Likewise, a person may feel like there are germs on the counters or surfaces of their home or even on their body. This can result in the person constantly cleaning their surroundings or taking hours to bathe. Hoarding can also be a form of OCD. If you are hoarding items in your home, it may be because you have constant thoughts that you cannot part with possessions because you might need them some day.
OCD is a vicious cycle of thoughts and behavior. People with OCD try to ignore or stop their obsessive thinking, but that only increases their anxiety. Therefore, they feel driven to perform compulsive acts to try to ease their stress and anxiety.
SYMPTOMS OF OCD
People who have OCD are locked in a cycle of obsessive thoughts followed by compulsive acts. If they attempt to stop acting on their thoughts, it makes their anxiety rise to an overwhelming level. They may have a panic attack and to them it appears that the only way they can relieve their anxiety is by acting on their thoughts. For example, if a person with OCD is obsessing over germs, they may wash their hands 40 to 50 times a day. If they try not wash their hands, their anxiety will rise to the point that they have a panic attack or they cannot deal with their anxiety. Therefore, it is easier to perform the act and wash their hands, so their anxiety remains under control.
Unfortunately, these OCD compulsions are consume a lot of time during the day. If you are washing your hands 40 times a day, that could take an hour or more of time. Similarly, a person with OCD might spend hours in the shower, repeatedly washing their hair, face, arms, legs and hands. Likewise, OCD may cause you to spend most of your night checking your doors and locks instead of sleeping.
Obviously, spending your time on compulsive behavior can make it difficult to leave the house, much less work. If you can only focus on your thoughts, it is impossible to focus on a task at work, follow instructions, and hold down a job. Thus, OCD can lead to disability if untreated.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a chronic condition that can evolve into clinical depression. In fact, many individuals with OCD are treated with medications for depression. Signs and symptoms of obsessive thoughts include:
- Fear of germs
- Doubts that you’ve locked the door or turned off the stove
- Intense stress when objects are not in order or facing a certain way
- Images of driving your car into a crowd of people
- Thoughts about acting inappropriately in public
- Avoidance of situations that can trigger obsessions, such as shaking hands
- Fear of germs or dirt
- Thoughts about harming yourself or others
- Constant thoughts about sexual or religious subjects
OCD compulsions are repetitive behaviors that a person must perform. These behaviors are supposed to relieve anxiety. Also, the person with OCD can believe that doing their behaviors can prevent something bad from happening. However, the behavior or task brings only temporary relief from anxiety. That is why the behavior must be repeated. Examples of compulsive symptoms include:
- Following a strict routine
- Washing hands until your skin is raw
- Shaving until your skin has a rash
- Checking doors and windows repeatedly to make sure they are locked
- Checking the stove over and over again to make sure it is turned off
- Repeating words or phrases
- Arranging objects to face the same way
THE CAUSES OF OCD
OCD usually begins in the teenage years, but it can also start during childhood. Symptoms can worsen over time and can also become worse during periods of stress. OCD can have mild to moderate symptoms. Additionally, it can become so severe that it interferes with your ability to work, to leave the house, or socialize with other people. Despite how many people have OCD, the cause of OCD is not known. However, there are some theories about the causes of OCD.
Some doctors and scientists think OCD may be genetic. Others believe that OCD may be caused by changes in the chemicals of the brain. In short, they believe it has a biological or chemical cause. Finally, some believe that OCD is learned behavior. For example, you may learn your obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors from family members or from your environment. Perhaps all of these factors or some of them combine to cause OCD.
FAMOUS PEOPLE WHO HAD OCD
Nicola Tesla is one of the world’s famous inventors. He designed the modern AC electrical supply system that delivers current to buildings. Tesla had OCD. He became obsessed with the number three and had to do things in threes. For example, he would swam 33 laps every day and if he lost count, he would start over from zero. Also, before he could go into a building he had to circle the block three times. Similarly, once he left the building, he always turned right. He also ate dinner every night at exactly 8:10 pm and he had to have three napkins next to his plate.
Charles Darwin, famous for his theory of evolution and writing On the Origin of Species, also had OCD. Darwin suffered from obsessive thoughts about health. He feared his children would inherit mental illness. Whenever he had this fear, he thought he could prevent it from happening if he closed his eyes firmly. Darwin repeated mantras and also had checking behavior.
The Smithsonian Magazine reports, “Every hour of his day was scheduled to roughly the same pattern for 40 years: a walk before breakfast, then work from 8 a.m. to midday, with a pause in the morning to listen to Emma read novels or family letters aloud. He went for a walk with his dog before lunch, the family’s main meal, at 1 o’clock. Then he read the newspaper, wrote letters or read until 3 o’clock, then rested, working again from 4:30 to 5:30. A simple dinner was served at 7:30, after which he played backgammon with Emma or billiards with his children or listened to Emma play the piano.”
Marie Curie is also thought to have had OCD. Curie is a famous scientist who was the the first woman to win a Nobel Prize for her work with radioactivity. She won the Nobel Prize a second time for discovering the elements radium and polonium. She is the only person, to this day, who has won the Nobel Prize in two difference sciences. Curie felt compelled to have order and symmetry in her lab and in her home. She arranged her furniture in a very specific way and she spent hours cleaning her laboratory. Her meticulous behavior also led to her incredible discoveries.
CAN YOU GET DISABILITY BENEFITS FOR OCD?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) looks at OCD under their listing for anxiety disorder. The specific listing is 12.06. For you to get benefits for OCD, your symptoms must be so severe that, even with treatment, you experience severe anxiety and behaviors that keep you from working. You must also prove that your symptoms are ongoing and will last over 12 months. You can learn more about the Part B criteria for OCD here. Listing 12.06 is as follows:
12.06 Anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders, satisfied by A and B, or A and C:
- Medical documentation of the requirements of paragraph 1, 2, or 3:
- Anxiety disorder, characterized by three or more of the following;
- Panic disorder or agoraphobia, characterized by one or both:
- Panic attacks followed by a persistent concern or worry about additional panic attacks or their consequences; or
- Disproportionate fear or anxiety about at least two different situations (for example, using public transportation, being in a crowd, being in a line, being outside of your home, being in open spaces).
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder, characterized by one or both:
- Extreme limitation of one, or marked limitation of two, of the following areas of mental functioning:
- Your mental disorder in this listing category is “serious and persistent;” that is, you have a medically documented history of the existence of the disorder over a period of at least 2 years, and there is evidence of both:
- Medical treatment, mental health therapy, psychosocial supports, or a highly structured setting that is ongoing and that diminishes the symptoms and signs of your mental condition; and
- Marginal adjustment, that is, you have minimal capacity to adapt to changes in your environment or to demands that are not already part of your daily life.
RESIDUAL FUNCTIONAL CAPACITY AND WINNING BENEFITS FOR OCD
The SSA may not believe that your symptoms are severe enough to qualify under its official listing for OCD. If that is the case, then the SSA will look at your residual functional capacity to see if you can work or not.
The RFC is the finding that defines what you can do in a work setting. It is how the SSA looks at your limits, both physical and mental, after taking into account all of your OCD symptoms.
However, your RFC includes both your physical and mental limits. In terms of physical limits, the SSA tries to define your ability to sit, stand, walk, and lift, during the course of an 8 hour workday. Likewise, the SSA will include your ability to carry, pull, and push. Find out more about how the SSA defines work here.
The RFC also includes your mental symptoms. If you have anxiety or fear due to OCD, then you need to seek treatment. If despite treatment, your OCD symptoms continue, then your records will show why you cannot work. The records will state that you cannot follow instructions, spend too much time on behaviors, and that you cannot control your anxiety. Your treatment records are the most important evidence of your OCD. If you don’t have health insurance, then go to the free and low cost mental health sources on this website. We have won over $100 million in ongoing and back due SSD benefits for our clients. Let us help you too.
RESIDUAL FUNCTIONAL CAPACITY FINDINGS COME FROM YOUR MEDICAL RECORDS
If you cannot win benefits by meeting a listing, you can try to win benefits by proving that your OCD limits your RFC. In other words, you can try to prove that your OCD symptoms limit you to the point that you cannot work a 40 hour work week.
In order to figure out your mental RFC, the SSA will examine your medical records. They will take into account what your doctor and counselor state in your medical records. If you need to learn more about what you need from your doctor to help your SSDI case, then read here. Also, the SSA will review any statements from other medical sources and statements from your past boss. Likewise, if they need more information, they may send you to a doctor for an exam. This is called a consultative exam. Learn more here about what to expect at SSA’s consultative exam.
The SSA will also consider descriptions about your limits from your family, neighbors and friends. For example, your family or friends could write a statement about what they have seen you go through. They can talk about your mental symptoms and your compulsive behaviors. Find out more here about RFC and how it combines with age to eliminate work. Also, find out more about SSA’s Medical Vocational Guidelines here.
HOW DOES THE SSA FIGURE OUT YOUR RFC WHEN YOU HAVE OCD?
In order to determine your RFC, the SSA first looks to the medical evidence in your case. That is why it is so important for the SSA to have all of your medical evidence. It is your “burden” or responsibility to provide all of your medical evidence to the SSA.
Typically, hiring a lawyer to help you do this is a wise choice. Learn more here about how to obtain your medical evidence for free. If you do not have enough medical evidence for them to make a decision, then they will arrange for your to have a consultative examination. Find out more about consultative examinations here.
YOUR RESIDUAL FUNCTIONAL CAPACITY IS BASED UPON YOUR OWN STATEMENTS
One of the other things the SSA considers when looking at your RFC is your own statements. They will read the forms you fill out for them. For example, when you apply you fill out forms about your past work. You also fill out forms during the appeals process about what you do during the day. If you have OCD, then you need to describe your ongoing thoughts and your repetitive behaviors. You may also need to describe your avoidance behaviors. For example, do you avoid taking a shower because you know you will won’t be able to finish the shower without washing your hair for 20 minutes.
You should write about the problems you have dealing with OCD during the course of a normal day when you are at home. Additionally, if you have lost jobs due to your OCD, you should talk about that too.
You may even suffer from fatigue or severe anxiety due to OCD. Learn more about benefits for Anxiety Disorder here. If you have these problems, then you need to say so on your SSA forms. Your answers on these forms are often some of the most important statements you make. If you state on your Work History form that you did not need extra breaks or that you were not fired due to being late to work, then that is what the SSA assumes is correct. OCD would normally interfere with your ability to concentrate during a work day or get to work on time. If you can work without breaks in order to perform OCD behaviors, then the SSA will assume you can work.
WHAT WE DO TO HELP YOU WIN SSD BENEFITS
You do not need to try to win SSD benefits on your own. Cannon Disability Law can help file your disability application. Also, we can help you file an appeal after every SSA denial. That way, you can focus on your health. Our attorneys and staff can:
- Send you the paperwork you need to become our client
- Help you file your application for SSD and SSI benefits
- Inform the SSA that the SSA should automatically pay your benefits under the Compassionate Allowance Rules
- Request reconsideration if you receive an initial denial from Disability Determination Services
- Help you confirm your attendance at a Consultative Examination
- Request a Hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
- Prepare you to be a good witness at your SSA hearing
- Represent you at your hearing and question the vocational and medical witnesses.
- Read more about vocational experts here
- Learn more about medical expert testimony here
- Request review of an unfavorable decision with the Appeals Council
- Request review of an Appeals Council denial in Federal Court
If you file your application for benefits online at Social Security’s website, then you have 6 months to complete the application. However, if you have a medical condition that automatically wins SSD benefits, you should not wait to finish your application. Once you submit your application online, the SSA sends you an application summary in the mail. You must sign the summary and mail it back.
Additionally, once you receive a denial from the SSA, you have 60 days to file an appeal. You must meet the time limit set by the SSA. If you do not, then you will have to start the process over again. That means you will lose any benefits you could receive on any prior application.
HIRE CANNON DISABILITY LAW TO HELP YOU WIN DISABILITY BENEFITS
Your OCD case can be hard to prove. Many Social Security Disability applications that are based on OCD are denied after they apply for benefits. In fact, only 30 percent of initial SSD applications are paid without the need for an appeal. The remaining 70 percent of people must go through an appeals process in order to obtain benefits.
The appeals process includes three steps. First, there is the initial application. The second step is the reconsideration step. Finally, the third step is to request a hearing. Find out more about what happens at the hearing here.
You should not go to a hearing without an attorney. At the hearing, the judge is likely to call witnesses to testify. For example, the judge may call a vocational expert (VE) or a medical expert. The medical expert is there to testify about your medical records. Likewise, the VE is at the hearing to testify about your past work. Also, the VE will testify about your ability to do other work in the national economy.
In order to win your case, you have to question these experts. This is a job for an attorney. One who has experience in Social Security Disability law. Don’t leave your future to chance. Hire an attorney to help you.
WHAT IS THE SSDI BENEFIT FOR OCD?
The monthly SSDI amount is different for everyone, because people earn different amounts of money. However, the average SSDI monthly payment in 2022 is around $1,358. Some people may receive more than that, because during their working years they earned more money. About one in 10 people who receive Social Security benefits get more than $2,000 per month. People with spouses and children also receive more money. The SSA also pays SSDI benefits to those with a spouse and children. A person with a spouse and children can expect an average monthly payment of around $2,383 in SSDI benefits.
If your OCD is so severe that you cannot work, then you should file for SSDI benefits. The amount of money you receive will depend upon the amount of money you have earned during your working years. You can apply for SSD benefit online at the Social Security’s website. Or, you can contact us and we will help you file your application for OCD benefits or any other mental condition that prevents you from working.
Additionally, SSDI benefits come with Medicare benefits after a waiting period. Learn more about Medicare benefits here. If you are already on SSDI benefits, then you should also learn about Medicare Advantage plans, which can lower your health costs.
If you win benefits for OCD, the judge may require you to have a representative payee, if you cannot manage your own funds. Most people do not need a payee, but many people with mental illness require a payee to make sure they are using their benefits wisely. If this is the case and you need to learn more, then read our article about the “Representative Payee and Your Benefits.”
CONTACT CANNON DISABILITY TODAY FOR HELP WITH YOUR OCD CASE
If you need help filing for SSI benefits, then reach out to Cannon Disability Law. Also, use the list of free and low cost medical resources on our website. Take the first step and call us. That is all you need to do to begin your journey to winning benefits. Simply reach out to our legal team.
Our legal team wants to help you. We offer a free review of your case. What that means is that you can call us and explain your situation. At that point, we will look at the merits of your case for free and let you know if you have a chance to win benefits. We do not charge for our review of your case. If you need to know more information about attorney fees, then read here.
In the past 30 years, we have won millions of dollars in ongoing and past due due benefits for our clients. If you want to win benefits for OCD, then you need to hire an attorney with the experience to win benefits. Also, you need a lawyer to prove to the SSA that you deserve SSDI benefits under their rules.
If you want to learn more about Cannon Disability then read our About Us page. For instance, Andria Summers is an amazing advocate. She can also help you with your Medicare plan. She has worked on and won thousands of SSD cases. Dianna Cannon has been helping clients win benefits for thirty years. Brett Bunkall also has years of legal experience helping people obtain their SSI and SSD benefits. We are experts. Our legal team has the experience you need to win your benefits for OCD. Contact us today. Put our legal experience to work for you.