Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Social Security Disability Catch-22

Here's the catch, as the following article neatly sums it up: if you file for disability, you really need to have medical record documentation that states you are disabled. However,many claimants who apply for disability, particularly if they have entered into the appeal process, which can be extremely time-intensive, no longer have access to regular medical care.

As a disability examiner, I routinely scheduled consultative medical exams (a.k.a. social security medical exams) for claimants who hadn't been to a doctor in quite some time because they no longer had medical insurance and did not have the money to pay for medical care out of pocket (for those who are unaware, a simple office visit can easily cost a hundred dollars or more, and if you have to pay for bloodwork, you may be looking at hundreds of dollars--all for one visit!!).

In social security disability representation, I found it quite depressing that so many claimants had cases that were relatively poorly documented due to the fact that they lacked health insurance and couldn't afford to pay for doctor visits.

The problem with social security disability eligibility is that, not only do you need to provide the oldest records possible to ensure that your alleged onset date (AOD, or when you claimed on your disability application that your disability began) is substantiated, you also need to provide current medical record documentation to prove that you are currently disabled.

All of which is logical and reasonable, of course, until you get to the reality check which is that many or most individuals who apply for disability after their injury or illness prevents their ability to return to work, leading eventually to a loss of medical insurance. Yes, some people will be eligible to take COBRA. But COBRA is damned expensive and is not an option for someone who no longer has income and is simply trying to save their home from going into bankruptcy.

I myself have a friend in the computer field who was laid off from his company for many months. Despite his health problems and need for medication, he did not take COBRA. Why? Because he didn't want his home taken away from him . So, to avoid losing his home (in this market, selling it was not a realistic option available to him), he took a pass on paying for insurance and didn't get the meds he needed for a long time. If my friend's health had declined even more, or he had become disabled, of course, he would have been in the same situation that many claimants are in---he wouldn't have the medical records to prove his disability.

The following article made me think of these issues this morning. This is really one of the best articles I have read in the last few months in that it really underscores some of the nightmarish deficiencies of the current system.

He is two months behind on his rent and his power bill. His cable and phone services have been disconnected. His car has been repossessed. And he has run out of four of the handful of medications he takes.

Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog

Other Posts

What is a Qualifying Disability for Social Security?
Are there disability benefits for children?
Can you get disability benefits if you have never worked ?
Qualifications for Disability - Social Security (work credits) and SSI

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