Obsessive compulsive disorder concept. Woman obsessively washing her hands.
Mental Health

Is OCD A Disability? Are There Benefits? What Are the Criteria to Receive These Benefits?

The saying “not all disabilities can be seen” really applies to mental health issues like OCD. Some might have just a few small signs of it, but for others, it can mess with pretty much everything they do. EVERYDAY. Yes, that’s how bad it can get.

People feel OCD in different ways, and it can change a lot from one person to another. For some, OCD is a big issue, but not everyone with OCD is “officially” considered disabled.


The Key Takeaway.

Getting help is the best way to go. If you try to handle your OCD on your own, it might just make things worse. The simplest thing to do is to get checked out and get a plan for treatment from a mental health place.

What Is OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)?

OCD is when you can’t stop thinking about stuff that scares you, and you end up doing the same things over and over, like washing your hands a lot. These thoughts and actions mess with your everyday life and make you feel really upset. You do these things to try to feel better, but the scary thoughts just keep coming back, making you stick to a routine. This is how OCD traps you in a cycle.

A common OCD worry is being afraid of germs. To try to stop this fear, you might find yourself washing your hands so much that they start to hurt. Having OCD can make you feel pretty bad about yourself, but there are treatments that can really help.

Who Can OCD Affect?

OCD can happen to anyone, no matter how old they are, even children. Usually, if someone’s going to get OCD, they’ll know by the time they’re 19. But sometimes, it can start when they’re older.

Symptoms Of OCD.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) has both obsessive and compulsive symptoms. But sometimes, you might have just one or the other. You might realize these thoughts and actions don’t make sense, or you might not. Either way, they take up too much time, make life harder, and mess with your everyday tasks and duties.

Obsessive Symptoms of OCD.

OCD can make you have the same worrying thoughts or pictures in your head over and over again. These thoughts can be about being dirty, doubting yourself, needing everything just right, or even scary ideas about hurting yourself or others. You might try to stop these thoughts by doing certain things again and again.

Here are some ways OCD can bother you:

  • Worrying about getting dirty from things other people have touched.
  • Not being sure if you locked up or turned off things at home.
  • Getting really stressed if things aren’t lined up or facing the right way.
  • Scary thoughts about doing something bad, like hurting people with your car.
  • Fearing you’ll say or do something wrong in front of others.
  • Having upsetting thoughts about sex or religion.
  • Avoiding handshakes or other things that can start these worries.

Compulsive Symptoms of OCD.

OCD can make you feel like you have to do certain things over and over, like washing or checking things, to feel less anxious. People with OCD might think these actions will stop bad things from happening. But the relief doesn’t last, so they end up doing them again and again.

Here are some things someone with OCD might do a lot:

  • Washing their hands until they’re really sore.
  • Cleaning too much.
  • Checking if doors are locked or if the stove is off, many times.
  • Counting things, like steps or tiles.
  • Having to follow a strict routine every day.
  • Shaving over and over, which can cause skin irritation.
  • Making sure things are arranged in a certain way.


Is OCD A Disability?

Well, under the Equality Act 2010, mental health issues like OCD are seen as a disability if they’ve been around for a while and really get in the way of everyday stuff. For OCD to be thought of as long-term, it should:

  • Have been around for at least a year.
  • Look like it will last a year.
  • Seem like it will come back.

OCD is a big problem if it makes normal things like getting on a bus, driving, chatting, cleaning up, or focusing harder than they should be. If someone’s OCD is bad enough to fit this disability idea, they’re protected from being treated unfairly because of it, thanks to the Equality Act 2010.

What Causes OCD?

OCD mostly starts when you’re a teenager, but it can also begin when you’re a child. The symptoms can get worse as time goes on, especially if you’re stressed. Sometimes, OCD isn’t too bad, but other times, it can be so intense that it stops you from working, going out, or getting along with others. A lot of people have OCD, but no one’s really sure why it happens.

Some experts think it might be passed down in families, while others think it’s about the brain’s chemicals acting up. Basically, they think it’s something inside your body or brain that causes it. Then there are those who think OCD is something you pick up from the people around you or where you live. It could be one of these reasons, or maybe a mix of them, that leads to OCD. WHO KNOWS?

How Much Does OCD Affect Your Daily Life?

You’ll Worry. Whether You Did It Or Not.

With OCD, you might worry a lot about staying safe and clean. Like, you could check if your door is locked many times a day, even if you just checked it. You might also not want to use public restrooms or shake hands with people. And even if you do what your worry tells you, like washing your hands a lot, you still don’t feel okay. Instead, you might feel upset for giving in to that worry once more.

OCD Can Really Get In The Way At School Or Work.

Wanting everything to be perfect is a big part of OCD. If you’re scared of losing your job or failing because your work isn’t perfect, you might not ever get it done. Also, OCD can make it hard to focus. If you’re always stressing about having everything on your desk just right, you might not even start your actual work.

OCD Can Lead To Self Harm.

OCD can sometimes cause people to hurt themselves without meaning to. Doing the same thing over and over, like pulling your hair, scratching your skin until it’s raw, or throwing up food to stop from gaining weight, can be bad for you. Washing your hands way too much isn’t good either. Too much soap and water can make your skin really sore and lead to skin problems like eczema.

OCD Can Mess Up Your Relationships.

For example, if you can’t stop thinking that your partner might be cheating, no proof will ever make you feel sure they’re not. If you have OCD, you might worry too much about the people you care about or insist they do things just so, to keep safe or be “right.” But trying to make someone else act a certain way can hurt your relationship for good.

OCD Can Lead To Self-Medication.

OCD might make you try to deal with it on your own by using drugs or alcohol. But even if these things seem to help for a little while, they won’t stop the OCD from coming back after they wear off.

Are There Rules To Help People With OCD?

Yes, there are rules to help people with OCD. It’s already tough to live with OCD, and it’s not fair for someone to be treated badly or to stress about losing their job or place in school because of it. If OCD is making someone’s everyday life harder, they have the right to get help and understanding at work and school, according to the Equality Act 2010.

Can You Get Benefits For OCD?

If someone’s daily life or work is really hard because of OCD, they might be able to get benefits. These benefits can help cover everyday expenses like food, housing, and looking after kids. The main benefits for people with mental health challenges like OCD are;

  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • Attendance Allowance (AA).

Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

This is money given to help people who have trouble with daily tasks or getting around because of a health condition. It’s split into two parts: one for help with everyday activities and another for help with moving around.

Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

This is for children under 16 who need extra care or have trouble moving around because of a disability. Adults over 16 can’t apply for this anymore; they have to go for PIP instead.

Attendance Allowance (AA).

This is for older folks who need help because they’re ill or disabled. It pays out more or less, depending on how much help they need, but it doesn’t cover help with getting around.

These benefits are there to give a financial hand to people with disabilities, including those with OCD, to manage the extra costs they might have. To see what benefits you might get, you can use any OCD Benefits Calculator on the internet.

Criteria For Getting Disability Benefits With OCD.

To get disability benefits for OCD, it’s not just about having a doctor say you have it. There are three big things you need to show:

Your OCD happens a lot and keeps coming back.

  • You can’t stop thinking about things that bother you, and it takes up too much time.
  • You do the same actions over and over to try to feel less worried.

Your OCD makes it hard for you to work.

  • The SSA checks how well you can understand and remember things, get along with people, focus on work, and handle changes.
  • You need to prove that your OCD really gets in the way of at least one of these things, or a bunch of them.

Your OCD is serious and has been around for a while.

You need to show that your OCD is tough to deal with and that it’s still a problem even after getting help. Specifically, you should have:

  • Had OCD for at least two years.
  • Been getting help like therapy to manage your OCD.
  • Struggled to deal with changes even though you’re getting help.

Questions To Ask Yourself Before Applying.

When trying to get approved for disability benefits because of OCD, it helps if you can say ‘yes’ to these questions:

  • Do your habits from OCD get in the way of your job?
  • Do your OCD thoughts or actions mess up your everyday stuff?
  • Is it hard for you to hang out with people because of your OCD?
  • Do you have to keep things super organized or follow a strict routine that doesn’t fit with your job?
  • Have you ever thought about hurting yourself or someone else?
  • Have you ever needed to stay in a hospital because of your OCD?

My OCD Meets The Criteria. What Next?

If you’re ready and have everything you need, you can go ahead and apply for disability benefits because of your OCD. Even if you’re not sure if you meet all the rules, you can still try, but the process is pretty detailed and might not be worth it if you’re sure you don’t qualify. Here’s a quick guide:

Go for it now if:

  • You’ve got an OCD diagnosis and
  • Your OCD is so tough that you can’t work or
  • You have another health issue that also qualifies for disability

Maybe wait to apply if:

  • You’ve got an OCD diagnosis but you’re handling it okay or
  • You’re still working, even though you’re worried about how OCD might affect your job

Think twice before applying if:

  • Your OCD is rough but doesn’t stop you from working or
  • You’re not planning to quit your job soon or
  • You’re making around or more than $1,400 a month

How Much Is A Disability Check For OCD In 2024?

The amount you get for a disability check because of OCD can vary. Normally, people with OCD or similar mental health issues get about $1,232.97 a month.

How much you’ll actually get depends on the kind of benefits you’re eligible for. If you’ve been working for 5 out of the last 10 years, you might get Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), and the most you can get is $3,822 each month in 2024. If you haven’t worked much and don’t have a lot of money, you might get Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and the most you can get is $943 a month in 2024.

What If My OCD Doesn’t Meet The Criteria?

If you’re dealing with OCD and it doesn’t seem to fit the disability criteria, don’t lose hope. Getting disability benefits for mental health issues is tough, even if your condition is serious. Only about 20% get a ‘yes’ on their first application. But, after appealing, around half of the people end up getting benefits.

One good move to boost your odds is to team up with a disability lawyer. It might feel odd to get a lawyer just to apply for disability, but people with legal help are way more likely to get those benefits.

Famous People Who Had OCD.

Marie Curie.

She was a superstar scientist, the first woman to grab a Nobel Prize for her work on radioactivity, and she got it twice for finding new elements. People think she might’ve had OCD because she was super precise about keeping her lab and home in order and spent lots of time cleaning her lab. Her attention to detail helped her make great discoveries.

Nicola Tesla.

He was a “big-deal” inventor who made the modern system for delivering electricity. He had OCD and was really focused on the number three. He had to do lots of things in sets of three, like swimming 33 laps or walking around a block three times before going inside a building.

Charles Darwin.

He came up with the evolution theory and wrote a famous book about it. He had OCD too, with lots of worries about health and his kids getting sick. He had habits like closing his eyes tight to stop bad thoughts and checking things over and over.

Treatments For OCD.

For OCD, people usually get help from both talking to a therapist and taking medicine.


The medicine for OCD is called SSRIs, and it works by making more of a brain chemical called serotonin. It might take a few months for the medicine to start working, and it could have some side effects, so talk to your doctor about it.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

In CBT, you work with a therapist to face your OCD thoughts and stop the repeat actions. There’s a special type of CBT called Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) that helps you face your fears little by little without doing the OCD actions. This helps you learn to handle worry without relying on those actions, breaking the OCD cycle.

The important thing about ERP is that it’s done carefully and safely with a therapist who knows what they’re doing. This way, you can face your fears without feeling too scared or overwhelmed.

When To See A Doctor For OCD?

Being a perfectionist means you really want everything to be just right. But having OCD is more than that. It’s not just worrying a lot about real-life stuff or wanting things neat.

If your OCD thoughts and actions are making life tough, it’s time to talk to a doctor or a mental health professional.

Did you find this article helpful? We’re glad you did! If you liked it, feel free to hit the like button and drop a comment with your thoughts. Got questions? Don’t hesitate to ask.

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