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Medication -Can it stop me from getting SSDI if condition improves?

What if I refuse to take my medication?


Many claimants have very serious health conditions but the conditions can be controlled with the proper medication and treatment. Recently on our disability forum we had a claimant ask, “If I have seizures but they are controlled by medication, if I take this medication will this eliminate my ability to get Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)?”


How will the SSA determine if my seizures are disabling?


This blog will specifically address seizures but the answer is the same for other conditions as well. If you have a condition which can be successfully treated with medication to such an extent that you can perform substantial gainful activity than the Social Security Administration will consider you NOT disabled, regardless of the severity of the condition.

Let’s consider epilepsy or seizures. There are many individuals who have severe seizures which are treated with medication. If the medication reduces the level of seizures to such an extent that they do not interfere with your ability to work then you are not disabled because “disabled” according to the SSA is the inability to work.

What if I refuse treatment?


If you refuse to take your medication the SSA will decide whether or not taking medication would restore you to a level that you that would allow you to perform substantial gainful activity. If, however, the SSA determines that following your doctor’s treatment plan and not taking medication would not restore to a point that you could perform work they are likely to find you disabled (assuming you meet all other medical and nonmedical criteria).

Let’s look at an example. If you are severely depressed and you are receiving treatment from a mental health doctor and they have prescribed Cymbalta or Paxil, assuming there is substantial medical evidence that these medications have helped thousands of claimants overcome severe depression, but you decide not to take the medication, it is likely that the SSA would determine that if you were following the doctor’s treatment plan you could work and they would find you not disabled.

When can I get SSDI for a condition?


The SSA will award SSDI to claimants who have a severe condition which is expected to last for 12 continuous months, does not allow the claimant to work, and is considered severe. The claimant must also have sufficient work credits to be considered insured for SSDI.

Conditions and symptoms which are considered automatically disabling are found in the SSA Listing of Impairments.There are two listings for epilepsy – Listing 11.02 for convulsive epilepsy and Listing 11.03 for nonconvulsive epilepsy. To meet the Listing 11.02, you will need to show that you suffer from:

Adults with nonconvulsive epilepsy (petit mal or partial seizures) may meet Social Security’s Listing 11.03. If they can prove: