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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Disability Benefits

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Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) causes claimants to repeat behaviors, also known as compulsions, over and over again or to obsess about objects or thoughts which create a combination of apprehension and anxiety. Whether Obsessive Compulsive Disorder manifest in thoughts or actions, they tend to create patterns which are difficult to ignore and which slowly control the individual.

Symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)


Although the individual’s obsessions or compulsions may be incomprehensible to observers, individuals who have them cannot control them. Common obsessive compulsive behaviors can  include:

• Excessive cleaning or obsession about germs
• Repetitive checking or examining whether a task has been completed
• Extreme hoarding of possessions
• Aversion to certain things such as numbers
• Nervous repetitive actions or rituals
• Obsessive thoughts

Unfortunately, the irrational nature of the obsessive compulsive individual may eventually destroy relationships, and while a paranoid or psychotic individual may not recognize their behavior as irrational, a person suffering from OCD generally does, which may create even more anxiety.

This condition is found in men and women in equal percentages. It is estimated that most individuals who have OCD have compulsive actions as well as obsessive thoughts. Compulsive behaviors generally start in childhood and are more common than other mental health disorders.

Winning SSD Benefits for OCD


Claimants who have OCD can become so overwhelmed by their condition that it can begin to interfere with their ability to maintain employment. Generally, the SSA will expect that claimants suffering from this condition would be getting treatment from a mental health professional, taking the appropriate medication and following the requirements of their medical treatment plan.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) will award disability benefits to claimants who either meet a listing in the SSA Listing of Impairments (informally known as the Blue Book) or through a medical vocational allowance.

Meeting an  SSA Listing for OCD


The SSA will evaluate OCD or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder under 12.00 Mental Disorders, section 12.06 Anxiety-related Disorders. For this listing the SSA will evaluate if “in these disorders anxiety is either the predominant disturbance or it is experienced if the individual attempts to master symptoms.” Some of the specific symptoms the SSA is looking for include:

• Generalized persistent anxiety accompanied by three out of four of the following signs or symptoms: motor tension; or autonomic hyperactivity; or apprehensive expectation; or vigilance and scanning.

• A persistent irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation which results in a compelling desire to avoid the dreaded object, activity, or situation; or

• Recurrent severe panic attacks manifested by a sudden unpredictable onset of intense apprehension, fear, terror and sense of impending doom occurring on the average of at least once a week; or

• Recurrent obsessions or compulsions which are a source of marked distress; or

• Recurrent and intrusive recollections of a traumatic experience, which are a source of marked distress.

The SSA will also evaluate if your condition causes marked restriction of your activities of daily living and your social functioning or marked impairment in your concentration, persistence, and pace. They will also determine how often you have periods of decompensation where you need extra medication, medical intervention or treatment.

Winning benefits for OCD through a medical vocational allowance


Claimants whose conditions do not meet the listing outlined in the SSA Listing of Impairments may still be able to win benefits if they can prove that their condition is so severe it does not allow them to perform substantial gainful activity. The SSA will also consider the claimant’s age, work history, education, mental health condition and residual capacity to work when they are making their decision.
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