As a claim for disability benefits is evaluated, the first thing the Social Security Administration examines is whether the claimant has a “medically determinable” impairment. Basically, impairments used to decide the claim must have been documented by a doctor. Also, where labs and tests are applicable, they must positively diagnose or support the alleged impairments. This process makes sense as allegations must somehow be checked â otherwise everyone who applied could just list a bunch of severe conditions, and all would be awarded. There must be some process to establish accountability and to verify severity. So what happens when a claimant cannot go to a doctor? We talk to multiple people each week who are out of work, who describe various conditions they have, but then explain why they have not seen a doctor in several years. These situations present huge obstacles, sometimes impossible obstacles, to overcome in trying to win a case. A few days ago, we accepted a claim that presented this problem. The woman, we will call her “Sharon,” had been out of work for seven years. Her initial departure from work came as a result of a bout of rheumatic fever, for which she was hospitalized and had subsequent follow-up appointments over a year. At that point, unfortunately, she ran out of health insurance. From then on, she saw a chiropractor for relief of some pain she had. She did not see an actual doctor for almost six years. During a recent hospitalization, Sharon received advice about where she could receive low-cost medical care, as well as some direction on getting some public aid from the state. It was at that time that she contacted us as well. In Sharon’s case, because she at least saw a chiropractor, we accepted her case, knowing that Sharon will not likely ever be awarded Social Security disability benefits without legal help. But the road ahead for Sharon will be difficult. Our job will be to “connect the dots,” so to speak. In other words, we must connect her initial illness to her present condition and find a medical opinion that explains her condition has been persistent in the intervening years. The point is: a case is more difficult to win if there are no medical records. That’s why it’s important for people to do whatever they can to maintain some type of medical care, and preferably with a real M.D. or D.O. â Social Security weighs the opinions of doctors over the opinions of lesser medical providers, such as nurse practitioners and chiropractors. What do you do if you have no money and no insurance? You do whatever you can. Many communities have clinics that charge on a sliding scale according to income. You might also be able to get help from Medicaid. We also suggest you ask around and look into county or state programs for medical care. “Anything” is so much better than “nothing” when it comes to developing a case for disability.