How Do You Qualify For Disability If You Don't Have Money To Go To the Doctor?
Social Security does not require an individual to have any medical records in order to file for, or qualify for disability. However, disability examiners need to have medical history treatment notes in order to make a decision. If you do not have the money to go to the doctor, check and see if there are any clinics in your area that might be helping individuals with limited resources, or who lack insurance, to see if you can receive medical care.
If you find a clinic, by all means establish medical treatment there. If there are no free clinics, even hospital emergency room records can be helpful.
For the purposes of this question, I will explain how a disability examiner will determine if you qualify for disability when you lack medical records. If an individual has no records, or all of their records are more than ninety days old, the disability examiner will have to schedule a CE, a consultative examination (sometimes referred to as a social security medical exam) for all the claimant's alleged impairments.
This means an individual alleging a mental and physical impairment who has not received any, or very little, medical treatment would have to attend both physical and mental consultative examinations to determine the severity and limitation of their alleged disabling conditions.
While this seems good on the surface, and it is better than nothing, consultative examinations are usually just brief examinations to get a current status of a disability claimant's condition (or conditions) so that the disability examiner can make a decision and close the case.
It does not take much for an examiner to deny a disability claim and, for the most part, consultative examinations are an effective tool for this. Rarely do consultative examinations lead to disability approvals in Social Security Disability and SSI cases other than an impairment like mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, or learning disabilities.
The reason consultative examinations lead to more approvals in those situations is because they are based upon objective testing--i.e. intelligence quotient, memory testing--rather than the consultative examiner's professional opinion (the consultative examiner would be the doctor or pyschologist that social security has paid to conduct the consultative examination, which, as mentioned, can constitute some form of mental testing, in addition to types of physical examinations).
It gets a little trickier if your impairment is based upon a physical problem, because physicians who have no expertise in the area of the disability claimant's disabling condition usually perform the examination for social security and offer their opinion as to the claimant's limitations.
For example, there have been many times that a disability claimant with a back problem has been sent to an allergist or gynecologist for an evaluation. Realistically, how much of an evaluation can an allergist or gynecologist give an individual with an orthopedic condition? This is a common complaint amongst disability claimants who attend consultative examinations.
So many claimants realize the moment that they meet the doctor that they will not have a thorough examination that truly evaluates their impairment. It is simply a means to an end for Social Security to make a medical determination for disability benefits.
It is discouraging but, for the individual who has no recent treatment of their own (and, thus, no recent medical records), even having just consultative examination reports in their disability folder may offer a bare chance of winning SSD or SSI benefits. As was stated, however, rarely do such exams pave the way for an approval.
About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.
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