By now we’ve covered what musculoskeletal disorders are, defined “loss of function,” gone over tests and procedures, and discussed the spinal exam. Documentation has come up from time to time, but we haven’t really gotten into the nuts and bolts of why it’s needed or what happens if you aren’t receiving ongoing treatment.
Below you’ll find answers to those questions and more.
Why It’s Important to Have a Record (and What That Means)
The most basic reason why you should keep an official, medical record is that it acts as a form of proof for your disability, treatment, and need for benefits. When you have such documentation out there, it has to be considered by the SSA if you apply for benefits, and that can mean the difference between winning your claim and having it denied.
There’s a more specific reason for this record, though, in terms of how it acts as proof: the documentation acts as a timeline or “longitudinal clinical record” that not only details how long you’ve been dealing with the problem and what kind of treatment you’ve sought out, but also how bad the problem is and whether it has improved or gotten worse over time.
Since most musculoskeletal issues do tend to get better as time passes or improve with medical treatment, the SSA pays a lot of attention to these findings. If you’ve sought out all kinds of help and can show that nothing seems to be working, you’ve got a pretty good case and should receive benefits for the problem.
What If You Don’t Have a Record?
While many with ongoing musculoskeletal disabilities receive treatment for their problems for months or even years before applying for disability, this isn’t true for everyone. Maybe they were trying to tough it out despite the difficulties it caused them. Or they’re afraid of doctors. Or simply didn’t have the money to continually pay for treatment. Whatever the reason, there are those out there who don’t have a record of seeking help but still suffer from a disability.
If you think you fall into this camp, don’t despair. You can still apply for disability and the SSA will make a determination not just on the current medical evidence that they can obtain, but also the symptoms from which you suffer, your work experience, age, and RFC (residual functional capacity).