You do not have to be taking any prescribed medications to qualify for Social Security disability benefits. However, if your doctor has prescribed medications for your disabling impairment and you don’t take the medicine, your claim is likely to be denied. I know that at first glance those two statements seem to be at odds with each other, but they aren’t. Let me explain.

In the case of the first statement that you do not have to be taking medications to be eligible for disability payments—the Social Security Administration does not define any disabling condition based on what types of medications a claimant has or is currently taking. So there is no rule that says you must take medications, and you certainly don’t need to be on medication in order to qualify for disability benefits. However, in the case of the second statement, let’s say your doctor prescribes treatment for your condition which includes prescription drugs. If you do not follow that treatment—that is you don’t take your medications—without a medically sound reason then Social Security examiners and Administrative Law Judges are likely to conclude that your condition cannot be so serious as to prevent you from being able to work.

A common reason that many disability applicants point to for not taking their meds is cost. While we know the cost of medicine can be challenging, the Social Security Administration is not sympathetic. This may put you in an unfair position, if you are uninsured, or unable to afford either to see a doctor or to buy the prescribed medication. Nevertheless, Social Security will almost certainly deny your claim if you are not taking any medicines to treat your symptoms and you are applying for disability benefits based on a medical condition that could be improved by medication. For instance, it is possible to effectively control symptoms of depression with antidepressants, reduce asthmatic conditions with steroids, and tame epilepsy seizures with medication, and so on. Unless you at least try to alleviate your symptoms by taking medication, proving that your condition is disabling will be an uphill battle. To the people at Social Security it could appear that you are either not ill enough to for medical treatment, or your doctor did not think your condition was serious enough to prescribe medication.

If you are applying for disability benefits but have no health insurance, it’s a good idea to check out any free or low cost clinics and prescription services in our area. Sources for information about free or low cost medical services can be found by searching the internet or contacting your local county health department or social services agencies.

If you are disabled and cannot work, contact us at Cuddigan Law for an evaluation of your case. That evaluation is also free.



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