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One way your medicines can affect your disability claim

In order to be approved for social security disability (SSD) or supplemental security income (SSI), you must be able to demonstrate that you impairment is severe regardless of any attempt to improve it with medical intervention. For this reason, it is critical that you take your medications as prescribed by your physician.

If a disability examiner sees that you are not currently under a doctor’s care for your impairment, or not taking your medication as prescribed and directed to do so (the issue is called medication noncompliance), the examiner may conclude either A) your symptoms are not so severe that they prevent you from functioning, or B) your symptoms are severe only because you are not taking your medicine. In either scenario, it would be unlikely to find yourself approved for disability benefits.

Medication compliance and noncompliance assumes an even larger role in the development and evaluation of SSD and SSI cases for which the major allegations are certain impairments.

Some impairments, such as seizure disorder (epilepsy), asthma, and ADHD, can be controlled with medication. Anti-seizure drugs and drugs commonly used to treat ADHD may, in some individuals, completely alleviate symptoms and allow them to lead normal, productive lives.

The only way to demonstrate to a disability examiner that you are not one of those people who are significantly helped by medication is to actually take your medication and have your physician document that that the functional limitations caused by your condition are severe enough to be disabling (according to the definition of disability used by the social security administration) despite your treatment regimen. In other words, that your medication, in effect, is not working.

In short, there is no way a disability examiner, or a disability judge for that matter, can make a decision on a disability claim unless it is clear that the condition cannot be helped by the available medical treatments. In recognition of this fact, some listings in the official social security list of impairments handbook (known as the bluebook and titled "Disability Evaluation under Social Security) such as the listings 11.02 and 11.03 for adult epilepsy) actually require that claimants prove their symptoms do not get better after ninety days of prescribed treatment before they can be approved for disability.

If you are applying for social security disability and do not take your medication, you not only put your health at risk, but you will almost certainly set yourself up for a summary denial of your claim.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Related pages:

How long does it take to get a disability approval letter?
Disability requirements, eligibility, criteria
Applying for disability, medical conditions
Which medical treatment sources will Social Security accept for evidence?
How does Social Security determine someone can't work?
How can I win disability if I don't have health insurance and can be seen by a doctor?
What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?
Appealing A Social Security Disability Determination
Appealing a Social Security Disability or SSI Denial with a Disability Hearing Before an ALJ
What Conditions Qualify For Social Security Disability?
Disability requirements and how to file in Illinois

Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

These pages provide answers to basic questions about pursuing disability benefits

What Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?
Disability for a mental condition
Tips for Filing for disability
Financial Help Filing For Disability
Checklist for filing for disability, SSI or SSD
Qualifying for disability benefits, how to qualify for SSD or SSI
Filing a disability application: the steps
Disability award notice, how long it takes to get benefits
How to Apply for Disability - Where do I go?
What makes you eligible to get disability?
How to check my disability claim status?
Can a disability attorney speed up a disability case?
SSI disability Award Letter
How long to get approved for disability?
How to apply for disability benefits
How long does disability back pay take?
What are qualifications for getting disability?
What medical conditions can you file disability for?
Disability Lawyer help questions
Social Security Attorneys, Disability Representatives