I haven’t seen a doctor much for my bipolar disorder because I don’t have insurance. How will this affect my Social Security Disability claim?
Get tips on applying for Social Security disability when you have a physical or mental illness, such as a bipolar disorder, and you lack medical records.
How Lack of Medical Records Affects Your Disability Claim
It can be difficult to get adequate medical care when you don’t have health insurance. However, it is still possible to be approved for disability benefits, even if you haven’t seen a doctor very often. Whether your have a physical or mental disability, such as a bipolar disorder, the biggest effect that a lack of medical history can have on your claim is proving when you became disabled. If the Social Security Administration doesn’t find enough information in your medical records to make a decision, they will send you to a consultative examination with a physician or psychologist that they select. If the examination and other information in your file support that you are disabled at the time of the exam and you are still insured for disability benefits, then your claim will be approved; but the date of disability used to pay your claim may not be retroactive to the date you believe you became disabled.
Financial Impact of a Later Disability Date
If you were not insured for disability at the time of the consultative examination and lack proof of an earlier date of disability, your claim would be denied. If you were insured at the time of the exam, but lack proof of earlier disability, you would lose back benefits.
Proving When You Became Disabled and How a Disability Lawyer Can Help
There are some things you can do to help your claim. Because you don’t have the more common sources of medical evidence, a Social Security attorney could be helpful in identifying and organizing information to support your claim. For example, if you were having trouble on the job—missing a lot of work or having difficulty with tasks that you previously could do without a problem—you might get a letter from your employer with his or her observations. If your disability is due to a mental illness, your employer might include observations of your becoming frustrated, arguing with other employees, or having difficulty following instructions. The letter should include the approximate time frame in which you were having the problems. For more information about employer statements, see our article Would It Help My Claim to Get a Statement from My Employer about My Problems at Work?
Similarly, letters from relatives, friends, and co-workers can also help if they have observed symptoms of your physical disability or if you have a bipolar disorder or other mental illness and they have been around you when you have been emotionally unstable or had functional problems due to your mental condition.