You don’t really see the point of going to your physical therapy appointments. Your condition hasn’t improved in weeks, it only hurts to do the exercises, and getting to and from the appointments is difficult and expensive. But before you cancel your therapy appointment, take note: you could be denied Social Security disability as a result.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) will base its decision to award you disability benefits on your credibility. If you say you cannot work due to pain or other restrictions, those restrictions must be conclusively shown in your medical information. In addition, SSA will also look for anything that contradicts your assessment of your condition or shows that you are unwilling to do everything you can to get better.

Here are a few ways applicants have hurt their disability cases in the past:

  • Failing to see their doctors. Your disability benefits are in jeopardy each time you fail to keep a doctor’s appointment. SSA relies on information from your doctor to build a progressive picture of your injury, so if you miss an appointment, they may believe your condition is improving.
  • Failing to follow prescribed treatment. In addition to keeping your appointments, you should also demonstrate that you have followed your doctor’s advice outside of the office, including going to physical therapy appointments, taking your prescribed medication, following a recommended diet plan, and using the assistive devices your doctor recommends.
  • Refusing surgery. If your doctor thinks that a surgical procedure will improve your condition, you must explain to the SSA the reasons why you do not want to have the surgery.Having surgery is a serious decision and should only be made on the basis of your health not whether it will improve your chances of getting disability.Speak to your doctor for advice.
  • Failing to report all treatment methods. Your doctor may not be the only person you see to treat your condition. You should inform the SSA of all medical help you receive for your condition, such as chiropractors, mental health counselors, acupuncture, meditation, massage, pain clinics, and over-the-counter medications.

Is it Possible to Refuse Treatment and Still Get Benefits?

If may be possible to get Social Security disability benefits as long as you have a good reason for not complying with typical treatment methods. Some acceptable reasons for avoiding treatment are lack of money or insurance coverage, experiencing side effects of a treatment that are worse than the symptoms, or a second doctor disagreed with the need for surgery in your case.

Our Social Security attorneys can examine your application and medical records to help you present the strongest possible disability case. Fill out the short help form on this page to have one of our staff members contact you.


Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska
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