Is medicine or medication an Issue for Social Security Disability or SSI?

When it comes to medication and filing for disability, there are two separate issues.

The first one concerns "compliance with prescribed medication". What does this mean? Basically this. If you have a condition for which medication has been prescribed and it becomes evident during a review of your medical records (at the initial claim level, first appeal level, or by a disability judge at the disability hearing level) that you have not taken your medication as directed by the prescribing physician, this may have a negative impact on how your claim is viewed.

Of course, this may sound completely ridiculous to someone whose medical insurance has lapsed for quite some time (obviously, its difficult to get medication if you don't have health insurance--unfortunately, this happens to a large percentage of disability claimants), but the social security administration's point of view is this: for a disability claimant has not taken medication as prescribed, how is it possible to gauge the true severity of their condition?

The second issue regarding medication and Social Security Disability applications, however, is "Will if affect my case if I am not on medication when I apply for disability?"

Answer: You do not necessarily need to be on medication to be approved for Social Security Disability or SSI disability. And Social Security Disability Examiners and Administrative Law Judges do not use a checklist for medication usage.

Just the same, though, disability examiners and ALJs may find it noteworthy (just to use a couple of examples) that a claimant who has major depression is not taking antidepressants, or that a claimant with seizure disorder is not taking antiseizure medications.

This is really, however, how disability applicants should view the medication issue. If you have a condition, are being treated for the condition, and are not being prescribed medication, don't worry about it. The social security administration will evaluate your medical records and make a determination based on the severity of your condition, the extent to which it functionally limits you, and the resulting effect on your ability to work.

If you have been prescribed medication, try to stay compliant because cases are denied on the basis of non-compliance. Without a doubt, this can be a bitter pill for disability applicants who have fought long and hard to win disability benefits and, somewhere along the way, have lost their health insurance coverage.

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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