Facing the Truth about your Health

IMG_2658Whether filing for Social Security Disability (SSD), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or Worker’s Compensation, coming to terms with the panoply of medical conditions that render you disabled is often a difficult challenge. As human beings, we derive pleasure and meaning from being productive, from contributing to our families, to our communities, through the work we do. Many times we are reluctant to admit all of the medical conditions that confront us. But as I have often said to clients, it is important to speak to your doctor about all of the health issues that render you disabled. To not do so would be like entering a prize fight with one arm strapped behind your back. This is particularly important when it comes to mental health. But it also pertains to physical health. Often times, well meaning medical providers want to treat the most critical physical problem, paying little or no attention to ancillary problems. Let’s say you fell off a ladder and broke an arm. The doctor treats the broken arm but ignores you complaints about your back because the doctor feels it is not the most pressing issue. Later, perhaps many months later, it is discovered that you also herniated a disk in your back. Now you have the problem in the Labor and Industries arena of fighting to prove that the herniated disk is related to the fall from the ladder rather than from natural degenerative disc disease. In the Social Security arena, proving that the herniated disc is related to the fall is not the issue. However, proving that this is a severe medical condition that contributes to your disability is critical. If there are no treatment notes concerning your low back and the symptoms related to it, then it will be an uphill battle proving that this condition contributed to your disability all the way back to the date of the onset of disability, the date you fell from the ladder. So it is important when you see your medical providers, you confirm with them that they are indeed writing in their notes all of your complaints, not just those they think are most important. It is also important that you insist on having them examine you for those ancillary complaints, there may be something more going on that they realize at first.

In the area of mental health, unfortunately, some people still feel stigmatized by a mental health diagnosis, some feel they just need to pick themselves up by their own bootstraps, and some are worried about their legal rights concerning visitation with children, custody problems, and so forth. http://www.mentalhealth.gov All of these concerns are secondary to your health. If you are suffering from a mental health disorder, it is not because you wished it upon yourself, anymore than you would wish to have cancer. The good news is that there is treatment available to help you. Moreover, it is important that you remember that mental health can affect your recovery from physical problems. Finally, mental health can affect your ability to function at work, in public, and at home. If you are applying for Social Security or Worker’s Compensation, your mental health must be considered as part of the set of conditions which contribute to your inability to work. You should seek treatment from your doctor and ask about seeing a licensed mental health counselor as well. Again, using the boxer analogy, this is part of your set of disabling conditions, don’t try to fight for benefits with one hand tied behind your back. There is hope for those suffering with a wide array of mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, and pain disorder. Get the help you need and make sure your doctor and your counselor are documenting how these conditions affect your ability to function. If you have a Worker’s Compensation claim, make sure your doctor and your counselor document whether they believe the mental health condition is somehow related to your on-the-job accident. Many times, when people have a disabling injury at work, the loss of income, the loss of enjoyment of life, the loss of the ability to provide for their spouse and children, all contribute to the onset of mental health disorders. See your doctor without delay.