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Can you get Social Security Disability benefits for OCD?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a pervasive mental disorder that can disrupt a victim's entire life. Beset by obsessions, or thoughts that cause anxiety, and compulsions, or repetitive behaviors that are responses to those obsessive thoughts, sufferers may be unable to function normally in their daily life and also be unable to work.

The National Institute of Mental Health says that OCD is both chronic and long-lasting, and notes that there are genetic, traumatic and neurological causes behind the condition.

But can you get Social Security Disability (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for OCD?

In some cases, yes. OCD is on the Social Security Administration's list of disabling conditions under section 12.06, as an anxiety disorder. To qualify for SSDI or SSI, however, victims must:

  • Have involuntary and time-consuming preoccupations with unwanted or intrusive thoughts, or
  • Engage in repetitive behaviors in an attempt to reduce their anxiety.

Sufferers must also show that their OCD causes either extreme limitation in one area of mental functioning or "marked" limitation in two areas. The agency will look at a sufferer's problems:

  • Understanding, remembering or applying relevant information in their daily lives
  • Interacting with other people in private or on the job
  • Concentrating on a task
  • Persisting with a task (staying on track)
  • Maintaining an appropriate pace while completing tasks
  • Adapting or managing their own behavior

However, it's important to note that people with OCD who have suffered from their condition for a while may have developed coping skills that diminish their symptoms -- usually through maintaining a highly structured and supportive environment or staying in a routine that rarely requires them to adapt or adjust to changes. Those people may also qualify under SSDI's rules for benefits.

Knowing how to present your medical records and supporting information in a way that Social Security can clearly see how your condition has limited you is the key to a successful disability claim. Find out more about how an experienced advocate can help you through the process.

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