Need to Apply for Disability? Help Your Doctor Help You

Megan Oltman Community Member February 06, 2009
  • A number of our forum members have had problems where insurance companies denied their Migraine-related disability claims. Sometimes the reason the insurers give is that they do not see evidence of disability in the medical records. For those of us who suffer with Migraines most days, this seems ridiculous! It's obvious, isn't it? You can't work with a severe Migraine. You certainly shouldn't work with a severe Migraine. Your judgement is impaired, your vision may be impaired, your reasoning and depth perception may be impaired, not to mention the blinding pain and nausea.

     

    I am not defending the insurance companies - the World Health Organization recognizes Migraine as one of the 20 most disabling conditions world-wide, and disability insurers should recognize that as well. However, they don't, necessarily. And what's more, headache specialists and other doctors who treat Migraineurs aren't always familiar with the ways of disability insurers.

     

    If you had a severe accident and applied for disability, the orthopedist or physical therapist or other medical professional who treated you would likely be familliar with the disability application process and would fill your records with references to your levels of functioning and levels of impairment. Your headache specialist may not have this orientation. You can help your doctor help you!

     

    This site is a treasure-trove of information on how to be an informed patient and self-advocate; I want to add a little more.  Be sure when you are meeting with your doctor to tell him or her how much work you have missed, or how many days you have been unable to function, or how much of each day you function. Go into detail, and ask him or her to put it in your record. You don't want to have to appeal an insurance application because there was nothing in the record! These are your medical records, and your doctor should record that information if you make the request. Many doctors will ask, but if they don't, be sure to tell them.

     

    You can also create a record yourself. We all know keeping a Migraine diary is a good idea to help us track Migraine frequency and severity, learn our triggers and see how our treatments are helping us; you can also use your diary to track and keep a record of your disability. Record how "able" you are on a given day - you could color code, or use a number scale to indicate whether you were fully functioning, barely functioning, or down for the count.

     

    By being prepared ahead of time, and helping your doctor help you, you may be able to make a stronger case.

5 Comments
  • Mo
    Mo
    Feb. 28, 2014

    I forgot to mention - some of my doctors tried to help me by recording relevant things in my records, but disability was denied because there was no "objective evidence". It doesn't matter what my doctors documented if it's not objective and if they didn't document all the nuances of what they saw in me during a severe aura, which they didn't because they're...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    I forgot to mention - some of my doctors tried to help me by recording relevant things in my records, but disability was denied because there was no "objective evidence". It doesn't matter what my doctors documented if it's not objective and if they didn't document all the nuances of what they saw in me during a severe aura, which they didn't because they're familiar with it and it didn't occur to them to write every single thing down. Even then, that could be determined to be subjective, which is why I had neuropsych testing done.  Migraine doesn't have any objective evidence, it's a clinic diagnosis.  I have another condition which the neuropsych testing reflects, but if I were "only" having migraines...well, that is a tough road to go down because of the "objective evidence" requirement.  I hope others have an easier time with all of this.

  • Mo
    Mo
    Feb. 28, 2014

    Unfortunately I have cognitive impairment on top of daily migraines and vertigo, and cannot organize my papers.  I've tried getting friends to help me but even that is too overwhelming because they don't know anything about "the system" and I can't explain all that needs to be explained.  I'm currently trying to appeal the denial of my short term...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    Unfortunately I have cognitive impairment on top of daily migraines and vertigo, and cannot organize my papers.  I've tried getting friends to help me but even that is too overwhelming because they don't know anything about "the system" and I can't explain all that needs to be explained.  I'm currently trying to appeal the denial of my short term disability and it's taken me four months just to contact a couple of doctors for statements and get neuropsych testing done, and now I need to compose an appeal letter.  (This is for group coverage I purchased through employer; if the STD is reversed, then it'll move on to LTD group coverage.)  Attorneys in my area (Portland) won't even consider helping until you've gotten a denial for SSDI.  I'm not applying for SSDI until I get the appeal sent in because I can't handle even considering that.  Meanwhile, 7 months now with no income...living off credit cards.  I've asked doctors, nurses and also the govt people who helped me get food stamps - how and where do I get an advocate to help me with all of this?  No one knows.... 

  • Jamie
    Feb. 08, 2009

    Every once and a while I need someone to come along and remind me to keep documenting EVERYTHING- never know what may come along, or what steps I may need to take.

     

    It's a lot easier getting and keeping things organized when the pile is only one manilla envelope thick than when it slowly builds... and builds... and soon it has its own corner of the apartment....

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    Every once and a while I need someone to come along and remind me to keep documenting EVERYTHING- never know what may come along, or what steps I may need to take.

     

    It's a lot easier getting and keeping things organized when the pile is only one manilla envelope thick than when it slowly builds... and builds... and soon it has its own corner of the apartment. Guilty as charged. It's called the "All the info is over there corner" We try and ignore it until we're reminded of it 'cause it's next to our Wii. 

     

    Inspired by this post, Megan, I'm going to work on getting records organized this week. 

     

    Thanks!Cool

    • Megan Oltman
      Feb. 09, 2009

      I'm a big believer in good old looseleaf notebooks - You can separate sections according to dates, or categories, however you want. You can get folders that are three hole-punched and put loose papers in there, and you can use three-hole punched lined notebooks for your diaries and keep them in the looseleafs too - so, bye-bye piles!

  • Nancy Harris Bonk
    Feb. 06, 2009
    You are absolutely right, Megan. It is vital to have well prepared medical records when applying for Social Security Disability Insurance(SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income(SSI) to have a successful claim. When the doctor tells us we are "medically disabled" it is time to make sure we have everything documented accurately. This means getting copies of medical...
    RHMLucky777
    Read More
    You are absolutely right, Megan. It is vital to have well prepared medical records when applying for Social Security Disability Insurance(SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income(SSI) to have a successful claim. When the doctor tells us we are "medically disabled" it is time to make sure we have everything documented accurately. This means getting copies of medical records, making sure they are correct. Filing out SSDI or SSI applications correctly, going to the intake interviews prepared takes a lot of work. I've been doing it, I'll let you know how I make out.
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