How hard is it to get on disability without being on medication?

The Social Security Disability definition mentions nothing about medication. And, in fact, potentially any individual who decides to file for disability can be approved for disability.

Having said that, though, there are various conditions for which it is important to be on prescribed medication. If you have epilepsy or seizure disorder, the social security administration, when it reviews your disability claim, will be interested in ascertaining your residual functional capacity, after the effects of prescribed medication.

And, of course, there are other conditions for which medication plays a substantial role. Asthma cases, for instance. If you have asthma, a disability examiner or disability judge (depending on what level your ssd or ssi claim is at in the system) will be interested in how well your condition is controlled despite the use of prescribed medication such as steroids and inhalants. What if you have asthma and have not been prescribed medication? Well, this fact alone may signal to an adjudicator the severity of your condition.

And, of course, there is the issue of medical compliance. What do I mean by this? What I mean is that a disability examiner or disability judge may base their disability decision, to some extent, on whether or not a claimant has taken the medication that has been prescribed to them. For individuals who have been prescribed medication and have not taken it, the reason is this: A. how can a person's ability to work be determined if their true functional capacity is unknown and B. how can social security determine a person's true functional capacity if they are not taking the medication that their doctor has prescribed for them.

This argument is a logical and valid one. Unfortunately, it does tend to penalize fairly severely those disability applicants who no longer have health insurance, cannot afford to be seen by a doctor, and do not have access to a free clinic that provides medication.

Can you get disability from the Social Security Disability or SSI program without being on medication? Yes, you can. However, depending on your particular condition, it may be much harder to demonstrate that you qualify for disability if medication has been prescribed and you are not taking it (unfortunately, regardless of the reason).

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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