Social Security considers any and all medically determinable impairments. But it is not enough to have a diagnosis alone. For example, someone may be diabetic but their condition is controlled with medications and with appropriate treatment he or she is able to function well. Another individual, however, may be diabetic with difficult to control blood sugars despite being insulin dependent, have painful neuropathy in the hands and feet, and may experience serious vision changes.
Attorneys at Martone Law Firm assist claimants with any diagnosis that results in functional limitations. Medical records are key to proving a disability. A disability claimant should be getting regular treatment for their alleged disabilities, including taking prescriptive medication as directed, following through with recommendations for therapies, testing, etc., and reporting his or her symptoms to their providers at each visit.
At Martone Law Firm we assist with identifying and obtaining the necessary medical treatment information to prove your claim. There may be situations where a claimant is unable or unwilling to get regular medical care. Attorneys at Martone Law Firm are experienced in obtaining information to support a claim whether or not the claimant has a treating physician. For example, in the case of an intellectual disability there may be no treatment to restore the individual’s ability to function, or a person with a mental disorder may not recognize the need for treatment, or the individual does not qualify for Medicaid and cannot afford out of pocket medical costs. Contact us today to find out how we can assist you with getting the treating information needed to support your claim for disability benefits.Medication Side Effects
People with disabilities are usually on several prescriptive medications to manage their conditions. These medications often have side effects that can be as bothersome as the illness they are used to treat but are necessary for reducing the illness or containing it. For example, and individual receiving chemotherapy treatment often has side effects of fatigue and confusion, or a medication may cause digestive issues requiring frequent bathroom visits. Social Security considers the side effects of medications as symptoms that must be considered when evaluating a disability claim.
All symptoms and limitations, whether they are caused by a disease, an injury, or side effects from medication should be documented in the medical records. It is important for a patient to tell his or her provider about all side effects at every appointment. This is so your provider will know, and also the symptoms will be documented in the medical records. It is important for the patient to explain not only what the side effects are, but also tell how those symptoms affect the person’s daily life. For example:
- Do you have difficulty focusing and concentrating after taking a medication?
- Are memory problems an issue?
- Has there been excessive weight gain affecting mobility or mental status? Or a decrease in appetite causing drastic weight loss?
- Are you having digestive problems? Diarrhea? Constipation? Frequent urination? Nausea? Vomiting?
- Does fatigue create a need for naps or rest several times a day?
Attorneys at Martone Law Firm review all your medical records in preparation for a hearing and will discuss with you how to present information about this important element in your disability claim.Proving a Mental Health Impairment
Many people with mental health conditions can function adequately for a period of time until a there is a flare of their condition and their symptoms overwhelm them. For example:
- Bipolar disorder may cause the person spend excessively, engage in risky behavior, alienate friends and family, and may even attempt suicide.
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) may cause symptoms that manifest later in life but originated from something in childhood.
- Depression may cause someone to isolate themselves and not be motivated to leave his or her home.
- Anxiety may cause problems focusing, being around other people, or panic attacks that cause an inability to function for periods of time.
It is important for patients to be open and honest with their providers so that proper treatment is offered and their records are documented with the functional limitations. Often, there is a combination of physical and mental impairments that limit a person’s ability to function.
What is difficult to prove about a mental health condition is there is no x-ray, lab test, or procedure to show the extent of the person’s limitations. The diagnoses are often based on information the patient reports to their provider.
Treatment notes are an important aspect of proving a mental impairment and the resulting functional limitations. Although psychotherapy notes are protected from by HIPPA, when they are submitted to Social Security for consideration they often provide probative value to the claim. For example, a claimant may get counseling on a regular basis but in response to a request for information the provider only sends information regarding the diagnosis, frequency of treatment, and list of medications prescribed. This information may establish that the person has a medically determinable mental impairment but provides little information about how that person is able to function in spite of their impairment.
The key to a successful disability claim based on mental health is documentation of symptoms and how those symptoms affect the person’s daily life.
Attorneys at Martone Law Firm have experience with working directly with mental health providers to get the detailed information needed to prove a disability.