In order to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, you will need to provide the Social Security Administration (SSA) with medical evidence to validate your claim. If you are applying for disability benefits it is likely that you cannot work and are living off of limited income. When facing these circumstances, it can be difficult to receive the medical care that you need.
So what happens if you cannot afford to go to a doctor, but you are applying for disability benefits?
First, you should look into all state and local options. Check with your state’s Medicaid administrator to see if there are any in-state programs that can help you receive the medical care you need. Be sure to research all clinics and offices in your area that specifically cater to low-income patients.
We have compiled a list of free or low-cost medical clinics across the United States. See the clinics available in your state: State Disability Resources.
Social Security Disability Consultative Medical Exam
If a claimant submits a Social Security Disability application with minimal medical evidence, the SSA may require that he or she attends a consultative medical examination. Consultative exams are conducted by doctors throughout the country who have been contracted to work with the SSA. The point of a consultative exam is to collect relevant medical reports that will help the SSA determine whether or not a person is disabled.
Although this may seem helpful for those who don’t have access to medical treatment, the consultative exam won’t always work in the claimant’s favor. Here’s why:
- The doctor performing the exam will have little knowledge of your medical history and may not be able to understand the limitations that you face based off of a single visit.
- The consultative exam is not intended to provide treatment. It is simply held to provide the SSA with updated medical evidence. The examiner will not be able to prescribe you medicine or see you on a regular basis.
- In the past, applicants have reported that their consultative exams lasted no longer than ten minutes. If a doctor does not take the time to understand your condition and limitations, he or she will not be able to give an accurate report to the Social Security Administration.
For these reasons we strongly suggest that you research other options before applying for disability without medical evidence. When searching for a doctor, explain that you are planning to apply for disability benefits and need a basic examination and records to provide as part of your application. Be sure to ask about a diagnosis, a long-term outlook, and an official opinion about whether or not you are capable of working.
Although finding affordable medical care can be hard work, remember that it can increase your chances of being awarded benefits. Don’t rely on the consultative exam to provide adequate medical evidence.
If you have a question that you’d like us to answer, leave it in the comment section below and it may appear in an upcoming blog post!