we fight for the rights of the injured and disabled

Can you refuse medical treatment and still get SSDI?

You know it’s challenging to get a claim for Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits approved, and you’re worried about a particularly thorny issue in your case: You haven’t followed your doctor’s treatment plan.

Can you still obtain the benefits you need? The conventional wisdom says that anybody with a chronic medical condition that is disabling should do everything they can to get better, including pursuing aggressive treatment — but the conventional wisdom is neither correct nor particularly wise. Here’s what you need to know.

There is an entire list of officially sanctioned reasons for not following your doctor’s orders

First, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has to determine whether or not obtaining the prescribed treatment would put you back in the workforce. If not, then your failure to obtain that care is a non-issue.

 If the SSA believes that your doctor’s prescribed treatment could restore your capacity to work, they must then look at whether you have “good cause” for your refusal to follow the plan. Some acceptable reasons for refusal include:

  •  Religious objections (along with proof of your religion’s teachings)
  • The inability to pay for the cost of the treatment
  • The inability to understand the consequences of not following the treatment plan
  • Disputes among your medical providers about what treatment is best or safe
  • Refusal to have a second surgery after the first surgery failed
  • An intense, documented fear of surgery (if that’s the prescribed treatment)
  • A major risk to life or limb from the prescribed treatment
  • The desire to remain opioid-free when opioids are prescribed

In addition, you can present any other reason for declining medical treatment that you care to offer, and SSA will consider your reasoning before making any decision. 

Unfair SSDI denials happen all the time. Sometimes, it can take some experienced assistance to overcome an objection and get your Social Security Disability claim approved.

FindLaw Network