People with disabilities are necessarily on medications to manage their symptoms, no matter what the medical or psychiatric symptoms. Often these medications have side effects that are nearly as troublesome as the original symptoms, but are necessary for lessening or containing the illness – think of chemotherapy. Many have side effects such as fatigue and confusion.
Side effects of prescribed medications are actual “symptoms” that must be taken into account in determining whether a claimant is disabled in a Social Security Disability claim.
It is very important for a claimant to tell a doctor all about all side-effects, at every appointment. This is not only so the doctor will know, but also because it is important that these symptoms be in the medical records. Judges look to the medical records to determine credibility of the claimant and it is very helpful if the record documents these issues, so it is not just the claimant saying it. Many computerized medical records have just a check list of symptoms before a visit. These are better than nothing, but actual comment by the treating professional is more persuasive.
It is also important that claimants refer to these side effects when filling out disability and daily activity forms. Both in these forms and in doctor’s office, it is important to not only tell what the side effects are, but tell how those symptoms affect the person’s daily life.