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Medication side effects and your disability claim

When people fill out their initial paperwork for their Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) application, many people actually forget to include information about an important part of their medical condition: the side effects they experience from their medications.

The side effects that come along with many medications can add a layer of difficulty to an individual's life that isn't present with their actual disease. However, Social Security won't consider the problems your medication causes you unless you bring those side effects to their attention. That's because every drug tends to affect individual patients in unique ways. While one patient might experience relatively mild side effects from a drug that can be classified as "merely inconvenient," someone else might have a much more severe reaction that's very limiting.

For example, let's consider just the side effects associated with many common antipsychotics, which are prescribed for mental illnesses like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and severe depression.

Some of the common side effects include:

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Restlessness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Tics and tremors

And that's just a partial list! Just one or two of those side effects, however, could be incredibly limiting. Imagine that you take Risperidone twice a day to control a severe mood disorder. However, each dose makes you very sleepy for several hours -- so you often have no choice but to lie down and nap until the drowsiness passes. That's important for the claims examiner who decides your case to know.

It's also important to let your doctor know about any side effects you experience from your medication. While they may not be able to provide you with a substitute that will work without side effects, they will note it in your chart -- and that can help you gain approval for your Social Security Disability claim.

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