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Can you refuse to follow your doctor’s plan and still get SSD?

On Behalf of | Dec 21, 2021 | SSDI

To qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you have to be too disabled to work – even after your condition is properly treated. 

This rule makes sense because plenty of people can work once their medical conditions are managed. For example,  many people work despite being diabetic or having arthritis. 

Generally speaking, if you don’t follow your doctor’s treatment plan, the Social Security Administration (SSA) won’t approve your disability claim, but there are exceptions. 

You may have good cause for not following a doctor’s orders 

If you fail to follow the prescribed treatment given by your physician and still want benefits, you have to show that you have “good cause” for failing to adhere to your doctor’s treatment plan. “Good causes” include things like: 

  • The inability to afford the treatment, such as when you lack insurance or your insurer refuses to pay
  • The inability to fully understand the consequences of not adhering to the treatment plan. It is common in severe mental disorders, like schizophrenia
  • The recommended procedure involves surgery, and you have an intense, documented fear of such procedures
  • The recommended course of treatment violates your religious principles (as documented by religious teachings)
  • You’ve tried the same treatment in the past, and it was unsuccessful
  • The treatment puts you at a significant risk of injury that could cost you a limb, your vision or your life
  • The only recommended treatment is an opioid medication, and you don’t want to risk taking opioids
  • The inability to obtain the recommended treatment within your area, such as when you would need a specialist in another part of the country, and you cannot travel

Patients with complex medical conditions often get conflicting medical advice from different specialist physicians. When that happens, you are entitled to follow the recommendations of the doctor you trust the most.

Don’t let your Social Security Disability claim be denied for failure to follow prescribed treatment without a fight.