Alright everyone, so this post is going to be a little different that what I write usually. I was contacted a few weeks ago by Molly Clarke, who is affiliated with an organization called Social Security Disability Help. Just as it sounds, the organization’s goal is to help individuals understand how social security disability works. I read through this article that she wrote and then sent me and have to say, it is incredibly insightful for someone with OCD. I know there are people out there reading this blog that have a more debilitating form of OCD and who might benefit from reading this. Even if you don’t have OCD, I think it’s worth a read. Thank you Molly and thank you everyone for reading!
Here’s the article:
OCD, Anxiety Disorders, and Social Security Disability Benefits
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a type of anxiety disorder that is characterized by uncontrollable thoughts and repetitive, ritualistic behaviors. Although many individuals with OCD are able to lead relatively normal lifestyles, others are severely limited by their condition.
If OCD prevents you from working, the loss of income and lack of medical insurance can be financially devastating. Fortunately, if you are facing these circumstances, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. Disability benefits can be used to offset lost income, costly medical bills, and day-to-day living expenses.
The following article will provide a general overview of the different benefit options and will prepare you to begin the Social Security Disability application process.
Disability Benefit Programs and Technical Eligibility Criteria
The Social Security Administration offers two different types of disability benefits—Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Each program has its own set of technical eligibility requirements.
SSDI- SSDI is a type of insurance program that offers benefits to disabled workers. Technical eligibility for SSDI benefits is based on an applicant’s employment history and past tax contributions. If you are under the age of 31 it can be very difficult to qualify for SSDI due to lack of employment history. To learn more about qualifying for SSDI, visit the following page: http://www.disability-benefits-help.org/glossary/social-security-disability-insurance-ssdi.
SSI- SSI is different from SSDI in that is a needs-based benefit program that offers financial assistance to disabled adults and children who earn very little income. Eligibility for SSI is based on a person’s income rather than on work history and taxes. To qualify for SSI, applicants cannot exceed the strict financial limitations put in place by the SSA. Learn more about SSI technical eligibility and financial requirements, here: http://www.disability-benefits-help.org/glossary/supplemental-security-income-ssi.
If an applicant qualifies for SSDI but still falls within the financial limits of the SSI program, he or she may qualify for both types of disability assistance.
Social Security Disability Medical Eligibility Requirements
In addition to meeting technical eligibility requirements, applicants must also meet medical eligibility requirements. These requirements can be found in the SSA’s official manual of disabling conditions—commonly referred to as the blue book. The blue book contains the medical requirements for all potentially disabling conditions.
The SSA’s blue book provides the medical requirements for OCD under blue book listing 12.06—Anxiety-Related Disorders. To qualify under this listing, applicants with OCD must provide medical documentation proving that they experience a combination of the following:
- Generalized anxiety; and/or
- A persistent irrational fear and avoidance of a specific object, activity, or situation; and/or
- Recurrent, unpredictable panic attacks that happen on a weekly basis; and/or
- Recurrent obsessions or compulsions that cause serious distress; and/or
- Recurrent and intrusive recollections of a traumatic experience.
To qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, a person must experience these symptoms to such a degree that they repeatedly interfere with daily living, social interaction, and concentration or otherwise cause a complete inability to function outside of one’s home.
To access this complete blue book listing, visit the following page: http://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/12.00-MentalDisorders-Adult.htm#12_06.
Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits
Prior to beginning the application process, applicants should collect all necessary medical and non-medical documentation. Medical documentation should detail the symptoms and limitations you face as a result of OCD. This documentation will serve as proof of your condition and is vital to your claim. You can find a complete list of all required documents on the SSA’s Adult Disability Checklist– http://www.socialsecurity.gov/disability/Documents/Checklist%20-%20Adult.pdf.
After collecting the necessary documents and records, you can begin the application process online or in person at a local Social Security field office. The application itself is made up of several different forms. It is important that you fill these out in as much detail as possible. Any missing or incomplete information can result in the delay or even the denial of your claim. If you plan to apply in person, you should bring all of the records and documents that you collected. If you are applying online, the SSA will provide you with a cover sheet that will allow you to fax your documentation in.
Once you submit your application, you may not receive a decision for several months. If your initial application is denied, it is important that you do not give up. You have 60 days in which to appeal the SSA’s decision. At first glance, a denied claim may be discouraging. However, the appeals process is often a necessary step toward receiving disability benefits. In fact, many more applicants are approved during the appeals process than during the initial application.
For more information about OCD and disability benefits visit Social Security Disability Help http://www.disability-benefits-help.org/disabling-conditions/obsessive-compulsive-disorder or contact Molly Clarke at firstname.lastname@example.org.