Getting Disability for Oppositional Defiant Disorder
Oppositional defiant disorder, or ODD, is a persistent disorder marked by angry or irritable behavior, hostility, vindictiveness, argumentativeness and temper tantrums — to the point that normal social functioning is impaired. While there is no known cause for ODD, it is often linked to other disorders such as ADHD and depression. In severe cases, an individual with ODD may qualify for Social Security disability or SSI benefits.
Which Program Do I Qualify Under?
Two options are available for individuals with oppositional defiant disorder seeking disability benefits.
Eligibility for SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) is based on your prior contributions to Social Security. If you’ve worked in the past and paid federal payroll taxes, you likely qualify under this program.
The SSI (Supplemental Secured Income) program, on the other hand, is needs-based. This means anyone who falls below a certain income level can apply.
Is ODD Covered by Social Security Disability Benefits?
ODD itself is not listed in the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book of conditions eligible for disability. However, many comorbid conditions are, such as ADHD, depression and substance abuse disorder. For cases in which ODD alone is the issue, it may be possible to apply for benefits under the Blue Book’s organic mental disorder listing. In order to qualify for an organic mental disorder:
- Medical evidence must document: persistent developmental impairment, disorientation of time and place, short- or long-term memory problems, hallucinations or other perceptual disturbances, personality or mood disorder, emotional instability, poor impulse control, impaired cognitive function or poor concentration, attention or judgment.
- Standardized testing and medical assessment must demonstrate that the child’s emotional, social, cognitive or personal development is well below an age-appropriate level.
Because there is some degree of subjectivity to the above criteria, it’s not uncommon for someone with severe ODD to have their claim rejected by the SSA. In fact, approximately 65% of all applicants will be rejected initially. If this has happened to you, don’t worry — it may be possible to mount an appeal.
Denied Disability for ODD?
If you have been denied for ODD disability benefits, it may be because you did not present strong enough documentation of the condition and its impact on your functioning. Strong documentation may include reports from physicians and psychiatrists, hospital records, results of standardized medical tests and prescription medication records. Documentation helps establish ODD and its impact on your life.
Documentation is especially important in ODD cases because there is no undisputed way to test for ODD. Instead, diagnosis is based on the findings of psychiatrists or physicians. In some cases, psychiatrists may not even agree about an ODD diagnosis or the severity of the condition, meaning you may need to visit multiple specialists to secure the right diagnosis and treatment.
ODD can also be challenging because it can be commonly misdiagnosed. In fact, it is often associated with childhood and young adults. Left untreated, it can develop into an antisocial personality disorder or a conduct disorder. The potential confusion surrounding the diagnosis can make it more challenging to secure benefits.
If you have been denied ODD disability benefits, there may be multiple complex factors influencing the decision of the SSA. If you have been denied benefits, turn to the law office of Lisa M. Ritacco as soon as you are informed of the denial and schedule a consultation.
Getting Help From a Disability Lawyer
A disability lawyer isn’t necessary when applying or appealing for benefits for ODD; however, one can be an invaluable aid. An experienced ODD disability lawyer can help you collect the appropriate evidence to support your claim and can initiate the appeal process if you get rejected.
Proving Eligibility for ODD Disability Benefits
You will want your condition and any underlying mental impairment to be carefully documented by a specialist. You will want your doctor and specialists to note any treatment you have received for ODD and additional conditions, as well as any impairment the condition causes you. Since ODD often occurs with other disorders, it is possible you may qualify for disability due to an underlying mental impairment or co-occurring condition.
You must prove your ODD causes an impairment functionally equal to the SSA listings. This may mean qualifying for ODD disability by establishing you have severe limitation in social functioning, as well as limitation in at least one other area to such a severity that it impacts your ability to work and perform everyday functions. For example, if ODD causes friction with co-workers to the extent that you cannot retain a job or do your work, and you face limitations in self-care or another area, you need to document this to show your ODD is an impairment functionally equal to the SSA listings.
A good doctor who specializes in ODD and related conditions can be useful in this regard. The detailed report and findings of a proven specialist in the field may carry more weight than notes from a general practitioner. A specialist may also be able to support his or her assertions with clearer language and more evidence-based findings.
In addition to working with a health care professional who has experience with ODD, it is useful to speak to a disability attorney. An attorney can work to secure the documentation to strengthen your claim and can ensure you apply for benefits with the strongest evidence possible. If you’d like to speak to a disability attorney, turn to the law office of Lisa M. Ritacco to schedule a consultation.
Contact the Law Office of Lisa M. Ritacco for Assistance
In Media, PA, the disability attorneys at the law office of Lisa M. Ritacco have more than seven years of experience helping individuals with ODD and other serious conditions get disability benefits though SSI or SSDI. We know the system and can walk you through the process of filling a claim or appealing a decision.
Your initial consultation with us is always free, and we never charge a fee unless your claim is approved. To find out more about what we can do for you, contact our office today.