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Surgery, will it affect my chances of getting SSDI benefits?

If you have a severe health condition the doctor may have suggested surgery to correct your condition. Recently on our disability forum a user wanted to know, “How will having surgery affect my ability to get Social Security Disability Insurance benefits


Does the SSA consider you disabled?


To be considered disabled the Social Security Administration (SSA) will review whether or not you will be out of work for at least 12 continuous months and whether or not you are currently working. If you are working full-time you will be automatically denied SSDI benefits. Next the SSA will determine if your condition is severe and whether it is on their SSA listing of Impairments with the corresponding symtpoms. If the condition is severe and on the listing of impairments, if the worker is insured for SSDI, which means they have worked and paid enough employment taxes to have sufficient work credits, they will be approved for SSDI benefits.

What if you have had surgery?


Now to the question, what if you have had surgery? The good news is that if you have had surgery this could mean you are following your doctor’s treatment plan and doing all you can to ensure you will get better. The SSA expects patients to get medical care and follow their doctor’s orders.

The only question that really is of concern after surgery is whether or not you can go back to work. If you have had surgery but your condition is still expected to last 12 continuous months, than assuming you meet the criteria outlined above, you could be considered disabled.

If surgery will improve your condition to the point you can return to work the SSA will consider you not disabled. For instance, if you have a severe spinal condition and you have had spinal surgery and the surgery is successful, whether you are currently getting SSDI or applying for SSDI, if you can work the SSA will expect for you to work.

What if I refuse surgery or other medical treatment?


Some claimants want to know if they can still get SSDI benefits if they refuse surgery. As mentioned above, the SSA does expect you to follow your doctor’s treatment plan, but they do allow there are times when treatment can be refused.

For instance, claimants may deny surgery for their condition for religious reasons, although they will expect proof that you are affiliated with a religious organization which has well documented teachings they are against surgery, for intense fear, if you cannot afford the surgery, if doctors do not agree on treatment, or you have had surgery in the past and the previous surgeries did not improve your condition.

Bottom line


If you have had surgery and you can go back to work you will not be approved for SSDI benefits. If you cannot work and the doctor recommends surgery as a treatment option, unless you have a valid reason to refuse medical treatment, the SSA will expect for you to get surgery.  If you have the surgery and cannot work than you may be approved for benefits.
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