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Social Security Disability Claims With OCD

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized as an anxiety disorder that causes undesired and repeated thoughts, feelings, images, and obsessions which can only be relieved by performing compulsive mental acts or behaviors. A person with OCD engages in these specific behaviors to reduce or eliminate the anxiety produced by their obsessive thoughts. However, doing so only provides momentary relief. If a person does refuse to complete their obsessive behavior, they could experience an overwhelming amount of anxiety. The range of someone’s OCD can be mild to severe, and if left untreated, their functional ability at work, school, and even at home could be adversely affected.

Creating An Claim with OCD

The Social Security Administration’s Blue Book lists OCD in section 12.06, which focuses on anxiety-involved disorders. The SSA’s manual of considered, potentially disabling conditions is known as the Blue Book. Its purpose is to provide strict criteria for disabling conditions which the Disability Determination Services (DDS) use when reviewing Social Security disability claims.

The manual details that anxiety-involved disorders need your application and medical records to prove that you experience general and chronic anxiety that’s accompanied by at least three of the following symptoms:


  • Vigilance
  • Physical tension
  • Pronounced apprehension
  • Uncontrolled hyperactivity

Your medical records must also show that you experience recurrent:

  • irrational fears
  • severe panic attacks
  • obsessions and compulsions
  • flashbacks or disruptive memories of trauma

The anxiety disorders listing also requires that your medical documentation and Social Security Disability application prove that you are unable to properly function away from your home or that your symptoms result in you exhibiting at least two of the following limitations:

  • Severe restrictions in performing everyday activities, which the SSA considers Activities of Daily Living (ADL)
  • Pronounced difficulty in social interactions or functioning
  • Difficulty concentrating, maintaining focus, or completing activities or tasks a reasonable pace
  • Extended and recurrent periods where symptoms get worse, which are considered during which “Episodes of Decompensation”

Regardless if you found that your OCD doesn’t meet the SSA’s requirements, you could still qualify for SSD benefits if you’re able to prove that your OCD is serious enough that it prevents you from finding and keeping a job. If the SSA decides that you deserve benefits but do not meet the Blue Book’s criteria for anxiety-involved disorders, then you’ll get what’s known as a “Medical-Vocational Allowance”, which is given when someone struggles with the condition that qualifies them for SSD benefits, but doesn’t necessarily meet the pre-conceived listing for a certain condition.

The most important part of your disability claim is that your medical records verify that your claim for SSD benefits accurately depicts the severity of your disabling condition. Your medical documentation must detail and clearly reveal that:

  • You’ve been formally diagnosed with OCD by a qualified medical professional.
  • You receive regular treatment from a qualified medical professional, preferably a psychiatrist.
  • You experience the primary symptoms of anxiety-related disorders.
  • You experience recurrent periods of decompensation and other limitations as a result of your condition.

Notes or statements from your psychiatrist and any other physicians who treat you need to be added to your claim and should accurately describe your symptoms. Make sure that your documentation illustrates the frequency of your symptoms, how severe they are, and the duration of them. You also need to include any and all treatments or medications you’ve received or are currently taking. Finally, make sure to detailing illustrate that your OCD symptoms continually prevent you from completing work even after you’ve been given treatment.

You Don’t Need to Do This Alone

The Social Security Administration is infamously known to be incredibly particular and harsh with their claim decisions, with the majority of applications being denied during their first review. This is because it is extremely difficult to describe pain or other subjective symptoms such as psychological or psychiatric disorders like OCD. You’ll need strong and detailed medical records as well as other documentation if you want to be successful in proving your claim. You’ll need the help of your psychiatrist and other doctors to gather the necessary documentation. It’s highly recommended you speak with a professional Social Security disability attorney if you wish to learn how to strengthen your claim and have the best chance of getting your SSD benefits claim approved by the SSA.