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What if I have no recent medical treatment for arthritis when I apply for disability?

"What will happen if I have no recent medical treatment for my arthritis when I apply for disability?"

Many disability applicants have no current medical treatment to substantiate their disability claim for arthritis. This is sometimes due to not having health insurance, or not being being able to afford co-pays.

With regard to medical record documentation, Social Security likes to have a twelve-month medical history, at the very least, to make a decision on a disability claim. This is so it can be determined how far back a disability may exist. And it is not out of the ordinary for a disability examiner to request records from five years prior.

However, to make a decision at all, Social Security must have access to recent records; examiners must have “current” medical information to make their decision. Social Security defines "current" as any medical treatment records that are ninety days or less old. I.E., to make the decision, there must be some medical evidence that is not older than three months.

If the disability examiner needs current medical information because it is not available from the medical records obtained from treatment sources, they will schedule you for a consultative medical examination. A CE, or consultative examination (What is a Social Security Consultative exam?), may be for a physical or a mental impairment. Very often, claimants are scheduled for both types of exams.

Such exams, if they are for a physical issue, tend to be short and are typically performed by an M.D. who has no past experience treating the claimant. Often, they last less than ten minutes. If the exam is for a mental issue, it may comprise psychological testing, a psychiatric evaluation, a mental status exam, or memory scale testing.

Most examinations are generally short status examinations geared toward providing just enough information for the disability examiner to make their medical disability determination.

However, some disability applicants will receive additional testing if the disability examiner feels that more information is needed. This may involve multiple consultative exams or perhaps an appointment to obtain xrays. In certain cases, a person may be sent to spirometry to assess their pulmonary lung function, or to audiometry for their hearing function, or to an eye exam.

In general, these examinations rarely lead to an approval for disability benefits. Despite that, these examinations are better than having no way to evaluate the severity of your arthritis. And, there is the chance that an approval for disability will result from your consultative examination simply by providing enough recent documenation so that an examiner will then be able to review the rest of the case file and the records that have been gathered.


1. Getting disability for arthritis?
2. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and arthritis qualify for disability
3. Can I get SSI for RA, Rheumatoid Arthritis?
4. Filing for disability with Rheumatoid Arthritis

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

Related pages:

Applying for disability for arthritis and medical treatment
Can I file for disability because of arthritis if I am still working?
Requirements for filing for disability with arthritis
Will I get Social Security Disability back pay?
Can I get permanent Social Security Disability
How much does Social Security Disability SSI pay?
Winning disability benefits, how do I win?
How to win your disability benefits
How to apply for disability for medical conditions
Social Security Disability application, how to apply, file
How long to get a disability hearing decision answer?

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

Social Security Disability status, How to check
How to find if a Social Security disability claim has been approved or denied?
How to qualify for disability, who qualifies?
Qualify for disability, eligibility requirements, criteria
How long does a request for a disability hearing take?
How Long Will it Take To Get a Disability Decision Letter from Social Security?
How long does it take to get or be approved for SSI or Social Security disability?
Applying for disability, how to apply, where to go
When should you File for Disability benefits
How Far Back Can SSI Back Pay Be Paid?
Maximum back pay you can get for Social Security disability