June 6, 2011

Medications and your Social Security Disability Claim

Indiana Attorney Scott D. Lewis represents Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claimants with their disability claim.  Often times, he will get asked by his disability clients if it is important for them to continue to take their medications prescribed by their treating physicians.  When Mr. Lewis discusses the claimant’s case, during the free consultation offered at his law office, he often shares with them the importance to continue to visit their treating physicians and the importance of the claimant to comply with the treating physician’s orders, including medications.

As disability lawyer Scott Lewis explains the disability evaluation process to his potential clients, he also explains the importance of medical records and medication history.  When submitting records in support of the claimant’s disability claim, Mr. Lewis and his staff will  attempt to submit all medications prescribed by the client’s treating physician.  Many times, claimants will experience side effects with their medications.  These side effects may contribute to the claimant’s inability to work.  Side effects of some pain medications or other medications may include, but are not limited to:

  • fatigue
  • drowsiness
  • nausea
  • breathing impairment
  • mental fogginess
  • gastrointestinal effects
  • decrease in reaction time

These side effects may impact the claimant’s ability to engage in normal daily activities or one’s ability to persist in a work environment.

Scott Lewis believes that if a disability claimant does not comply with their treating physician’s medication orders, the Social Security Administration (SSA) may deny their disability claim.   In Mr. Lewis’ experience, it may be in the claimant’s best interest to take the medications that have been prescribed by their treating physician and take prescribed medication as instructed. The SSA will determine the severity of the disability and their ability to function while the claimant is medicated.  If the disability claimant fails to comply with their medication orders, the SSA may not be able to make a determination.  For example, if you are person suffering with asthma or epilepsy, if you fail to take your prescribed medication as directed, the SSA may find that your condition is more limiting or severe when not medicated.  In contrast, taking the medication prescribed to you by your treating physician may also render your condition as being non-disabling or may possibly determine that your condition is less severe, but still disabling.  Unfortunately, if a patient is not taking his or her medication this determination cannot be made by the SSA.

Whether you are suffering from bi-polar disorder, migraines, epilepsy, or asthma, it may be in your best interest to take all medications as prescribed and as directed by your doctor.  Compiling a list of medications, doses, and side effects cab be important when filing for SSDI or SSI benefits.  Failing to do so may weaken a disability claimant’s case in the eyes of the disability examiner or the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).  It is important to remember all Social Security disability claims are different and ALJ’s views on medications may vary.  Noncompliance with medications may not always result in a losing claim, but Indiana disability attorney Scott Lewis experience has shown it can be an issue.

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