Medical Side Effects and Social Security Disability Claims

Medical Side Effects are a serious issue in Social Security disability cases

Medical Side Effects are a serious issue in Social Security disability cases

Medical Side Effects

People with disabilities are often on medications to manage their conditions, no matter what the medical or psychiatric symptoms. These medications can have side-effects that can be nearly as troublesome as the original illness, but are necessary for lessening or containing it – think of chemotherapy.  Many have side-effects such as fatigue and confusion. If you are suffering, read further to find out how medical side effects and Social Security disability claims are interconnected.

By law, side-effects of prescribed medications are actual “symptoms” that must be taken into account in determining whether a claimant is disabled in a Social Security disability claim.

It is important for you to tell a doctor about all side-effects, at every appointment. This is not only so that the doctor will know, but also it is important that these symptoms be in the medical records.  Judges look to the medical records to determine credibility of the claimant. It is very helpful if the record demonstrates these issues, so it is not just the claimant stating it. Many physicians now use computerized medical records that have a check list of symptoms before a visit.  These are better than nothing, but actual comment by the treating professional carries more weight.

It is also important that claimants mention these side-effects when filling out disability and daily activity forms.  Both in these forms and in the doctor’s office, it is important to tell not only what the effects are, but tell how those symptoms affect the person’s daily life.

For example:

  • Does fatigue create such a need for naps and rest that the patient has to lie down several hours each day?  This alone may preclude full-time work.
  • Do concentration and confusion problems create an inability to focus?
  • Are memory problems an issue  – for tracking appointments, managing finances, even grocery shopping?  Detailed examples are very powerful.
  • Are there digestive effects – is there diarrhea or a decrease/increase in appetite?  Weight loss? Nausea?
  • Is neuropathy an issue?

It is also important for health care providers to include all symptoms and side-effects in the ongoing records, because Social Security needs “credible medical evidence” upon which to base a decision.  It is important that all symptoms and limitations, whether caused by disease, injury, or medication side-effects be in medical records.

Anything that interferes with the ability to hold down a full-time job should be documented carefully. Contact us for more information on medical side effects and disability claims.

Further Resources:

WEB  MD – This section goes over many common side effects of medications.

NIH – The National Institutes of Health has good information on side effects and drug interactions as well.

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