You’ve recently become unable to work, and you aren’t sure when you’ll be able to work again. Social Security Disability Insurance, also known as SSDI, can help you pay for expenses and support your family while you qualify for disability.
The Social Security Administration’s definition of disability is a condition that leaves you unable to work. This condition must be expected to last for at least one year. Seeking medical treatment is crucial to getting approved for SSDI benefits and continuing to receive those benefits in the future.
What Do I Need to Apply for SSDI?
Evidence. It’s what the SSA will be looking for when you make a claim. As you apply for SSDI, you’ll be asked to provide a detailed account of your medical condition, injury or illness.
You will need to provide:
- Contact information of your doctors and specialists. Any doctor involved in your diagnosis and treatment should be included. Visits with social workers and mental health professionals count, too.
- Dates of your examinations and treatments. You need to prove your condition keeps you from working in order to get SSDI. Medical exams, regular doctor’s visits, and more can provide evidence that you have a disability and are actively seeking treatment.
- Medicines you are taking or have taken and why. You’ll want to keep a list of prescribed and over-the-counter medications you’ve tried and note the reasoning behind taking them.
- Medical tests you have had and the results. Again, you want to provide any information you can about your condition and your limitations. Medical tests can be used to show evidence of your condition or injury.
- Alternative methods of treatment. If you’ve explored alternative remedies, like massage therapy or special exercises, include these treatments as well.
What if I Can’t Afford a Doctor?
If you cannot afford a doctor or haven’t seen a doctor recently, a consultative exam provided by the SSA may help provide evidence of your disability. During this special medical exam, you will visit a private physician for an exam or tests as requested by the SSA at no cost to you.
It’s highly unlikely that a consultative exam alone will win you benefits, so it’s important to explore other options. SSA examiners will request your medical records. Visiting a free clinic or even the emergency room could help show evidence of your condition.
If these alternatives are unavailable to you, you need to show that you’ve exhausted all possible avenues. This includes applying for Medicaid, inquiring about low-cost services near you, or contacting organizations in your community for help.
Do I Have to See a Doctor to Keep SSDI?
After you receive SSDI, you should continue to see your doctor or a specialist if you can. Though treatment can be expensive and specialized care may be unavailable where you live, consistent treatment is crucial for keeping your benefit.
Your eligibility is based on whether or not your condition improves. If you stop seeing your physician, the SSA may view that as a sign your condition has improved, and you won’t have new evidence to show that your condition remains.
The SSA reviews cases periodically by reaching out to individuals and their doctors to see if there are changes to the person’s limitations. These reviews can happen every six to 18 months. If your condition isn’t expected to improve, you will be reviewed every three to seven years.
Complying with your treatments is a necessary part of receiving SSDI. If you don’t, your benefit could end due to treatment non-compliance. However, there are exceptions for those who cannot afford certain treatments and don’t have access to free or low-cost services.
Are you ready to apply for SSDI?
Contact Reynolds & Gold. We will help you get the benefits you deserve.