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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.
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For the sake of clarity, SSDRC.com is not the Social Security Administration, nor is it associated or affiliated with SSA. This site is a personal, private website that is published, edited, and maintained by former caseworker and former disability claims examiner, Tim Moore, who was interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled "The Disability Mess" and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system.
The goal of the site is to provide information about how Social Security Disability and SSI work, the idea being that qualified information may help claimants pursue their claims and appeals, potentially avoiding time-consuming mistakes. If you find the information on this site helpful and believe it would be helpful to others, feel free to share links to its homepage or other pages on website resource pages, blogs, or social media. Copying of this material, however, is prohibited.
To learn more about the author, please visit the SSDRC.com homepage and view the "about this site" link near the bottom of the page.