One of the key requirements of a successful disability claim is that an individual must suffer from an impairment that has lasted, or is expected to last, 12 consecutive months.
The way to establish this is with regular treatment with medical providers, though sometimes that’s easier said than done.
The first barrier that many claimants run into is cost. They need treatment, but they simply cannot afford it.
Another issue that arises is that there is simply nothing else that doctors can do. Treatment can no longer alleviate a claimant’s pain or other symptoms, and all they can do is take medication.
In some cases, claimants will refuse surgery if it is particularly invasive, has a low probability of success, or if they have already undergone surgery with minimal improvement.
In cases involving mental health issues such as anxiety or depression, sometimes the severity of the symptoms cause claimants to avoid seeking treatment for months or even years at a time.
All of these are valid reasons for why Social Security could find an individual disabled for 12 months or longer, but it is important to document in the medical records that are there why these gaps in treatment exist.
For example, if you haven’t seen a physician for several months, at your next appointment you could mention it’s because you were told further treatment would not improve your condition.
Without such a notation in the medical records, it’s possible that your claim could be denied, or the judge could pick a later onset of disability, which would result in reduced backpay of benefits.