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Getting Short or Long Term Disability for Medication Side Effects

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Can You Get Disability Benefits Due to Medication Side Effects?

Yes, you can receive short or long term disability benefits due to medication side effects. In the context of disability insurance claims, “disabled” is typically defined as being unable to perform the material duties of your occupation due to your medical condition. The adverse side effects of your necessary medication(s) may cause serious and ongoing cognitive and/or physical symptoms that stop you from working.

For example, you may be prescribed an antiepileptic medication to prevent seizures. The medication is necessary to control the debilitating symptoms of your epilepsy, but it may cause side effects that affect your functioning in other ways—such as drowsiness, dizziness, and/or muscle tremors. While it is vital to stay on this medication to manage your epilepsy, the side effects could cause short or long term disability in their own right.

However, getting your short or long term disability claim approved by your insurance company will require proving that the side effects of your medication(s) cause symptoms that impede your ability to work. Merely submitting a list of your prescribed medications and self-reporting your symptoms will not be adequate.

In this article, we’ll discuss what medication side effects cause short and long term disability, how to prove short or long term disability due to medication side effects, and how the experienced team at The Maddox Firm can help prove your short or long term disability claim.

What Medication Side Effects Cause Short and Long Term Disability?

Medication side effects can cause long term disability

Many medications cause side effects that may prevent you from working, even when properly prescribed and overseen by your doctor(s). Adverse medication side effects may be a necessary evil to contend with so you can treat your primary illness or injury. They may create new disabling symptoms or, in combination with your underlying medical condition, cause short or long term disability.

Common medication side effects that cause or contribute to short or long term disability include:

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Drowsiness, fatigue, and/or dizziness

  • Brain fog and other cognitive impairment

  • Headaches

  • Skin rash or itching

  • Muscle weakness or tremors

  • Changes in heart rate or blood pressure

  • Diarrhea or constipation

  • Mood changes or depression

  • Insomnia or other sleep disturbances

  • Increased risk of bleeding or bruising

  • Liver or kidney damage

Keep in mind that your medication side effects on their own don’t have to cause disability. Even with treatment, your underlying medical condition and its related symptoms may continue to impact your ability to work. Your medication side effects may be a contributing factor rather than the sole reason for your disability status. If you are filing for short or long term disability due to an underlying medical condition and your medication causes additional disabling symptoms, don’t forget to submit evidence of these side effects to your insurance company. Your insurance company will consider the combined impact of your medical condition and medication side effects.

How Do You Prove Short or Long Term Disability Due to Medication Side Effects?

You must support your short or long term disability claim with sufficient evidence documenting your medication side effects and how they impact your ability to work. Your insurance company will evaluate your claim and make a determination based on the weight of the evidence submitted. Generally speaking, there are two facets to a successful short or long term disability claim: proving your medical disability and proving your inability to work.

Proving Your Medical Disability

Whether your medication side effects qualify you for disability insurance benefits will depend on the nature of your symptoms. Almost any side effects can cause disability if they present with enough severity and frequency. Your insurance company will require you to provide objective medical evidence of your symptoms.

What objective evidence can prove medication side effects?

Some medication side effects are easier to prove with objective evidence than others. For instance, if you are prescribed a medication that causes severe itchy skin rashes, you can document this to your insurance company with reports from your doctor’s in-person examinations, skin biopsy results, or even photographic evidence. However, other symptoms are more difficult to obtain evidence of, such as headaches, fatigue, and especially cognitive symptoms such as brain fog and slowed thought processing.

Examples of objective medical evidence of your medication side effects include:

  • Office visit notes from your doctor: These medical records can document your medication side effects from your doctor’s in-person examinations, such as tremors or muscle weakness.

  • Liver testing: Elevated liver enzymes or other abnormal liver function test results can indicate liver damage caused by certain medications.

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG): The ECG results can demonstrate changes or abnormalities that may indicate cardiac toxicity caused by certain medications.

  • Blood tests: Blood tests can demonstrate electrolyte imbalances or abnormal blood cell counts that may indicate side effects of certain medications.

  • Skin biopsy results: Biopsy results can indicate drug-induced skin reactions or rashes caused by medications.

  • Imaging tests: Imaging such as CT scans or MRIs can reveal structural changes or abnormalities in organs or tissues caused by certain medications.

  • Neuropsychological Evaluation: A neuropsychological evaluation can provide objective documentation of any cognitive deficits caused by your medication side effects.

  • Functional Capacity Evaluation: A functional capacity evaluation can provide objective documentation of any physical deficits, including muscle weakness or tremors, caused by your medication side effects.

Proving Your Inability to Work

The second component of your short or long term disability is proving your inability to work. Oftentimes people make the mistake of believing that being “disabled” requires your condition to leave you bedbound and completely nonfunctional. However, disability insurance companies typically have less of a threshold to disability benefits compared to the Social Security Administration. Most disability insurance policies will only require that you prove your medical condition (and including the side effects of medications) impair you from working in your own occupation.

For example, if you work as a project manager for a marketing firm, your job may be sedentary and require little physical activity. You likely spend most of your workday at a desk working on a computer. However, your job may have high-level cognitive demands. You must be able to intensely focus for extended periods of