When I Apply For Disability, Should I List My Old Meds From Years Ago?

The Social Security definition of disability requires that a person must be able to prove that that they are currently disabled and are likely to stay that way for the forseeable future. This is why, in some respects, old medical record information is not as important as current medical evidence (though it should be made clear that older evidence will help to establish how far back it is that a person will qualify for disability benefits, which will certainly have an impact on how much disability back pay they may potentially receive, as well as when their medicare benefits might "kick in".

Qualifying for Disability and your residual functional capacity, or RFC

Disability eligibility, for Social Security Disability and SSI purposes, hinges upon a concept known as residual functional capacity rather than simply being diagnosed with a specific impairment or taking certain medications.

Residual functional capacity is what an individual is capable doing in spite of the limitations of their disabling condition or conditions. Thus, disability examiners need access to current medical records from a person's hospitals and doctors in order to detemine if that person is currently disabled. It makes no difference if medical records that are dated from five months earlier substantiate a claim for disability, i.e. prove that the person was disabled five months ago. To receive a disability award, it must be proven that a person is currently disabled; therefore, the social security administration needs current records (meaning not older than 90 days).

Current Medications versus Old Medications

A disability examiner working on a claim would also need a list of current medications rather than old medications that a person is no longer taking. This is because they are supposed to consider the effects of an individual's medications, both upon their ability to engage in activities of daily living as well as upon their ability to perform substantial work activity. After all, the medications used to treat certain conditions may be even more limiting than the person's condition.

So, in answer to the question, listing current medications will be far more important than listing old medications. In fact, if your claim later goes to a hearing in front of a federal judge, your disability attorney will ask you for a list of your current meds, not your older ones.

Nonetheless, there is still some value in listing older medications when you initially file for disability. For example, if you were once given medication for anxiety or depression, but no longer take them, this can provide a tip-off to the disability examiner that you have a history of one of these illnesses that should, perhaps, be investigated, or at least given some consideration when your case is evaluated.

Having said all this, unfortunately, it was my experience as a Social Security Disability examiner that, all too often, no consideration is given to the effects of an individual's medications on their ability to function normally, let alone work for that matter. Were this not the case, it is likely that attempts at qualifying for disability benefits under either the title II program (Social Security Disability) or title 16 program (SSI disability) would be far less complicated, involve far less time, and would yield better outcomes for claimants.

It goes without saying that the system for Social Security Disability and SSI eligibility criteria could benefit from certain alterations and improvments to the process that is currently in use.

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.

Most popular topics on SSDRC.com

Social Security Disability in North Carolina

Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

Tips to Prepare for Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI

Advice to Win SSD and SSI Benefit Claims

Social Security Disability SSI Questions

What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?

How to get disability for depression

Getting disability for fibromyalgia

SSI disability for children with ADHD

What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?

Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips

More Social Security Disability SSI Questions

What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?

Related pages:

Should you Look at the Disability File that Social Security has on You?
How do I apply for a Social Security Disability widow's claim?
Who handles my case if I apply for Social Security Disability?
Social Security Disability Application Online
Can I apply for disability online?
Can I Collect Unemployment While I File For Disability Benefits (SSD or SSI)?
What medical conditions can you apply for disability for?
To Apply For SSI or SSD Disability Benefits, Where do I Start?
When You Apply For Disability, write Down Everything That Is Wrong With You
When I Apply For Disability, Should I List My Old Meds From Years Ago?
When I Apply for Disability - Should I apply for Social Security Disability or SSI?
What happens if you are working when you file for disability or work after you apply?
If Social Security Turns Down My Case Can I apply For Disability A Second Time?
Getting a Disability Lawyer in Alabama
How long can it take to get disability in Colorado?