Many people believe that if they have a disability that is expected to last at least 12 months and they make under the income limit (currently $15,720 per year), all they need to do is fill out some paperwork and their social security benefits will be approved. What you might not realize is that you have the obligation to see doctors, some of whom might be chosen by the Social Security Administration (SSA), and to comply with the medical treatment recommended. Here are some considerations for you to keep in mind as you go through the social security application process for disability benefits.
You must allow your medical records to be released.
Although there are laws put in place to protect your privacy when it comes to your medical records, if you do not allow them to be released to the SSA, then the government has no way of knowing that you are, indeed, expected to remain disabled for at least one year. It is possible that you will need to release records that, to you, have nothing to do with your current disability. For example, although you may be claiming disability because you have hurt your back, the SSA may wish to see records taken by your family doctor pertaining to other illnesses that you have had. If you do not allow access to these records, your claim may be denied.
You might have to see an SSA doctor.
There are some instances that will prompt the SSA to request that you see one of their doctors. One example might be if you don't have a doctor whom you are seeing regularly. Another might be if your doctor hasn't kept complete records or if those records are unavailable for some reason. If the SSA requests that you see one of their doctors for an examination, it's in your best interest to comply. If the government has to determine whether you are eligible for benefits based on incomplete or missing information, chances are good that your claim will be denied.
You must comply with treatment, with a few exceptions.
Another reason why a disability claim might be denied is if you do not comply with the treatment recommended by your doctor. By not completing your treatment or by missing your appointments, you might be prolonging your recovery, and the SSA will not want to begin or continue paying benefits if you are not actively trying to get better. This applies whether it's your regular treating doctor or the SSA doctor making the recommendations.
There are a few exceptions, however. One is if you have a mental or physical disability that makes it impossible for you to comply. For example, if you have anxiety to the point that you cannot make yourself go through with a recommended surgery, this will be taken into consideration. Another exception is if you have a religious objection to the recommended treatment. If your religion prohibits you from having a blood transfusion or taking certain medications, for example, you will not be forced to compromise your religious beliefs. If you have gotten two different opinions from two different doctors, this is another reason why you might not follow the treatment recommended by one of them.
An attorney specializing in disability insurance claims, such as Iler and Iler, can help you navigate the process of applying and staying eligible for social security disability benefits. He or she can advise you as to how to best manage your medical care to improve the chances that your disability claim goes through. Consult with a qualified attorney if you are unsure as to whether your case could be improved by having additional medical examinations or complying with the treatment that has already been recommended.