When submitting an application for disability benefits it is important to seek a doctor’s assessment and follow his or her treatment recommendations. This includes accepting surgery if that helps to eliminate your medical condition.
Refusal to undergo surgery, unless you have good reason, may mean you are no longer eligible to receive disability benefits. There are a number of acceptable reasons that may support your case for refusing surgery as a treatment option.
Refusing Surgery and Disability Benefits
Everyone has the right to refuse medical treatment and the SSA cannot force you to undergo surgery. However, if a doctor has recommended surgery because it could improve your medical condition and your ability to work and you refuse, the SSA does not have to pay you a disability benefit. The usual rule is that you are required to follow the treatment recommendations from your doctor, or you will not be eligible for a Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefit.
If the recommended treatment includes back surgery, which your orthopedic surgeon believes will treat your back condition successfully and will allow you to return to work, but you refuse to have this recommended surgery, you may find you are no longer eligible for a SSDI benefit. This is because the surgery should restore your health sufficiently that you are able to go back to work to earn an income.
Possible Exceptions for Refusing Surgery
There are some exceptions for not following the prescribed treatment rule which may be any of the following. These are listed below.
- Fear of surgery, if this fear is well documented by your health professionals;
- The recommended surgery or the type of surgery is against your religion, such as being a Christian Scientist, so your non-compliance may be excused on that basis;
- Unable to afford the prescribed surgical procedure because you don't have medical insurance that covers the surgery so you have no money to pay for it. The SSA will ask you to show evidence that you have no other way of paying for it such as applying for Medicaid or seeking help from a charity or public assistance program;
- Know that past surgery performed on you or someone else has been unsuccessful;
- There is an amputation required;
- The surgery attracts a high degree of risk including open-heart surgery, an organ transplant, a bone-marrow transplant, and untried and proven experimental procedures, may excuse you from resorting to surgery to treat your medical condition;
- Being diagnosed with a mental Illness may be an excuse for not getting the recommended surgery to treat another medical condition.
Get Help With Your Claim
Refusing surgery may give the SSA enough evidence to deny your disability benefit claim. However, there are exceptions and if you seek the guidance of a licensed attorney you may find you win your claim for a disability benefit, despite refusing surgery. An attorney may have won many cases like yours and will work hard to get the desired result.
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