Patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) may be unable to work because of their disease and its related complications. Patients who find themselves unable to work because of their obsessive-compulsive disorder may qualify for long-term disability (LTD) benefits. The insurance company will review their claim to see if they qualify for disability for OCD under the conditions of that plan. Patients may also qualify for benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. The Social Security Administration will review your claim to see if you qualify for benefits under SSA rules.
What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?
OCD is a mental condition characterized by obsessions and compulsions. Those that suffer from OCD may have obsessions, compulsions, or both. Obsessions are reoccurring thoughts or urges that cause distress. Common obsessions include fear of germs, straightening or organizing things, and thoughts of harm to self or others. The person may develop compulsive behaviors in order to find some relief from the obsessions. Compulsive behavior can be obvious or more subtle, but all compulsive behavior can inhibit a person’s quality of life. Compulsions include repetitive hand washing or cleaning, organizing things in a precise fashion, repetitive counting, or touching objects in a particular order.
While many people claim to “be OCD,” obsessive-compulsive disorder is more than a simple love of cleanliness or order. People with OCD frequently spend at least an hour a day on their behaviors, finding little relief in the very compulsion that is meant to soothe their fears.
Diagnosing Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
A general practitioner may be able to diagnose someone with OCD, but most are referred to mental health specialists. There are no definitive diagnostic tests, such as MRIs or blood work, so the patient must rely on the doctor’s clinical assessment. Common screening tests include the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale and Florida Obsessive-Compulsive Inventory. Researchers have found a link between previous trauma and OCD, but there is no definitive cause. Some patients have noticeable differences in brain structure, but there is not yet a way to diagnose patients through brain scans.
Treating Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Treatments for OCD include talk therapy and medications. Most patients require a combination of both talk therapies and medication in order to manage their symptoms. Avoiding triggers and changing lifestyles in order to minimize stresses can also help with the quality of life. Some therapists use exposure therapy, where the patient is exposed to increasing levels of their triggers in order to learn how to manage their symptoms and desensitize themselves to the trigger. Exposure therapy should only be done with a qualified professional, as it can backfire if not done correctly.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is not curable, but with the correct treatment, many patients find significant relief from their symptoms. Other patients may find that their OCD is severe enough to limit them from working or participating in normal life activities. These patients may qualify for disability for obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Disability Evaluation of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Patients with OCD may be unable to work because of their disease and its related complications. Patients who find themselves unable to work because of their OCD may be eligible for long-term disability (LTD) benefits. The insurance company will review their claim to see if they qualify under the conditions of that plan.
Definition of Disability
Most LTD plans consider a person disabled if they have a medical condition that causes them to 1) be unable to perform their work duties for the first two years of the policy and 2) be unable to complete the work duties of almost any occupation for the years following the initial 2-year period. Each LTD plan defines disability as slightly different, so look over your plan policy to see how your plan determines “disabled.”
Evaluating Disability for People with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Patients seeking disability benefits for OCD will have to prove that they cannot perform their old job or any job that they could be trained to work. To qualify for disability benefits, the condition must prevent the person from working for a least one full year. They will need a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) assessment that indicates how their symptoms affect and limit their life activities.
Someone with OCD may need to leave work for doctor visits and therapy appointments. Side effects from medications can make patients sluggish and fatigued. It may be difficult for them to concentrate on complicated tasks. Compulsions can interrupt work tasks and make it difficult to complete assignments. Those with obsessions about germs may find it difficult to work with the public or in conditions they consider dirty.
What the Insurance Company Needs from You and Your Medical Providers
You should tell the insurance company about any doctor that has treated you for your OCD. The insurance company will need to obtain all relevant medical records to get the full picture of your health. These records include office notes, clinical exams, diagnostic tests, and lab results. Records of therapy sessions may be particularly helpful for proving a disability case for OCD. If for any reason they cannot get these records from your doctors, you should request them and provide them to the insurance company yourself.
You will need to provide proof of your diagnosis and your ongoing symptoms, as well as proof of how you are affected by your symptoms. Providing detailed documentation is key to a successful claim. Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) assessments determine how you are affected by the condition and what you can do despite your limitations. It is used to determine what jobs you may still be qualified to perform.
Social Security Disability for OCD
As stated above, you may be able to obtain Social Security Disability benefits for OCD if it affects your social functioning and ability to work. To be approved for benefits, you will have to meet the SSA Blue Book listing 12.06 for obsessive-compulsive disorders or otherwise prove that you do not have the residual functional capacity to perform any past relevant work.
Working with a Disability Attorney
Since you are so limited by the appeals process, consider consulting a disability attorney very early on. Even with a claim for OCD, it can be tricky to navigate the claims and appeals process. Working with an experienced disability attorney will give you the best chance of getting the benefits you deserve. If you have been denied disability benefits, do not lose hope. Many people are denied benefits the first time they apply. You have the right to file an appeal and to get more information that may help your case.
While the process can be daunting, your expert disability attorney will be able to guide you through the process. Getting expert help is often the difference between being denied and being approved for benefits. An experienced long-term disability attorney can help you stay on top of your deadlines, help you gather your documents, assist you during field interviews, and give you guidance that will help you get your claim approved. They do not get paid until you win your case. You can seek help without worrying about upfront costs or unexpected bills.
The Ortiz Law Firm has successfully represented people in disability cases across the United States. If you would like to talk to an experienced disability lawyer about your OCD and its impact on your ability to work then contact us today. The Ortiz Law Firm offers a free consultation with no obligation to use our firm. During the call, you can ask any questions you have regarding your claim, and we will answer them. To see how we can help you receive your long-term disability or Social Security Disability benefits, call us at (888) 321- 8131.