Patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) may be unable to work because of their condition and its related complications. Those who find themselves unable to work due to their OCD may qualify for long-term disability (LTD) benefits. The insurance company will review their claim to determine if they qualify for disability benefits for OCD under the terms of their plan.
What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?
OCD is a mental condition characterized by obsessions and compulsions. Individuals who suffer from OCD may experience obsessions, compulsions, or both. Obsessions are reoccurring thoughts or urges that cause distress. Common obsessions include fear of germs, the need for straightening or organizing things, and thoughts of harm to oneself or others.
People may develop compulsive behaviors to find some relief from these obsessions. Compulsive behavior can range from obvious to subtle, but all forms of compulsive behavior can impair a person’s quality of life. Compulsions include repetitive hand-washing, organizing things in a precise fashion, repetitive counting, or touching objects in a specific order.
While many people claim to “have OCD,” the condition is more than a simple love for cleanliness or order. Individuals with OCD often spend at least an hour a day on their behaviors, finding little relief from the very compulsions intended to alleviate their distress.
Diagnosing Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
A general practitioner may diagnose someone with OCD, but most patients are referred to mental health specialists. There are no definitive diagnostic tests, such as MRIs or blood tests, so diagnosis is based on the doctor’s clinical assessment. Common screening tests include the Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale and the Florida Obsessive-Compulsive Inventory. Researchers have found a link between previous trauma and OCD, but there is no definitive cause. Some patients display noticeable differences in brain structure, but as of now, there is no way to diagnose the condition through brain scans alone.
Treating Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Treatments for OCD include talk therapy and medications. Most patients require a combination of both talk therapy and medication to manage their symptoms.
Avoiding triggers and making lifestyle changes to minimize stress can also improve one’s quality of life. Some therapists use exposure therapy, in which the patient is exposed to increasing levels of their triggers to learn how to manage symptoms and desensitize themselves. Exposure therapy should only be conducted by a qualified professional, as it can backfire if not performed correctly.
Disability Evaluation of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
r4fMost LTD plans consider a person disabled if they have a medical condition that prevents them from 1) performing their work duties for the first two years of the policy, and 2) fulfilling the work duties of almost any occupation for the years following the initial 2-year period. Each LTD plan defines in its own way, so review your policy to understand how “disability” is determined.
Evaluating Disability for People with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Individuals with OCD may need to take time off work for doctor visits and therapy sessions. Side effects from medications can cause sluggishness and fatigue, making it difficult for them to focus on complex tasks. Compulsions can interrupt work tasks and impede the completion of assignments. Those obsessed with germs may find it challenging to work with the public or in conditions they consider unclean.
What the Insurance Company Needs from You and Your Medical Providers
Inform the insurance company about any healthcare providers who have treated you for your OCD. The company will need to obtain all relevant medical records to get a comprehensive view of your condition. These records include office notes, clinical exams, diagnostic tests, and lab results. Documentation of therapy sessions may be particularly helpful in substantiating a disability claim for OCD. If for any reason the insurance company cannot obtain these records from your healthcare providers, you should request and provide them yourself.
You will need to provide proof of your diagnosis and your ongoing symptoms, as well as evidence of how these symptoms affect your daily life. Detailed documentation is crucial for a successful claim. Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) assessments can illustrate how your symptoms limit your activities, and this information is used to evaluate what jobs you may still be qualified to perform.
Working with a Disability Attorney
Since the appeals process can be complicated, consider consulting a disability attorney early on. Working with an experienced disability attorney improves your chances of receiving the benefits you deserve. If you’ve been denied disability benefits, don’t lose hope. Many people are initially denied but have the right to file an appeal and to obtain additional information that may strengthen their case.
While the process can be daunting, an expert disability attorney can guide you through it. Expert help often makes the difference between denial and approval of benefits. An experienced long-term disability attorney can help you meet deadlines, assist you in gathering your documents, support you during interviews, and provide guidance to help get your claim approved. They typically work on a contingency basis, meaning they don’t get paid until you win your case. You can seek their assistance without worrying about upfront costs or unexpected bills.
The Ortiz Law Firm
The Ortiz Law Firm has successfully represented clients in disability cases across the United States. If you would like to speak with an experienced disability lawyer about your OCD and its impact on your ability to work, please contact us today.
We offer a free consultation with no obligation to use our services. During this consultation, you can ask any questions you have about your claim, and we will provide answers. To find out how we can help you secure your long-term disability benefits, call us at (888) 321- 8131 or fill out our free case evaluation request form.