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Obtaining Medical Treatment and Medical Records During COVID-19 Pandemic

April 2nd, 2020

For claimants filing for disability benefits, the success of the claim is always tied to their medical evidence.  Actively treating and having evidence to support a claimant’s case and hearing testimony is essential to being approved for benefits.  Conversely, not treating and a lack of medical evidence almost always derails even the best disability claim. 

During the current coronavirus pandemic and in light of the stringent social distancing directives and stay at home/shelter in place orders, continuing to treat the impairments serving as the basis of a disability claim can prove to be challenging.  While medical providers are clearly an essential service exempted from the stay at home/shelter in place orders, the reality of the coronavirus pandemic is that most providers are less willing or unavailable to assist patients with non-coronavirus-related symptoms or any chronic impairment. 

While claimants may be willing to treat, the opportunities to do so may be limited.  To address this problem, claimants should consider the benefits of telemedicine. 

Most medical providers and insurance companies now offer the option to talk online with your own doctor or a random doctor on staff at an insurance company.  You can discuss symptoms, they can prescribe medications and you can interact with the physician without the burden of having to go to the doctor’s office.  This is especially critical now when leaving your home or going into a doctor’s office for treatment can potentially put you at risk of coronavirus exposure. 

After each telemedicine session, your medical records are either emailed to you or you are provided with a link to access your treatment note online.  While the usefulness of telemedicine treatment records is unclear, since this is a relatively new treatment source, what is clear is that telemedicine appointments are better than no treatment when considering the impact medical records have on the success of your disability claim. 

Henson Fuerst highly suggests that each claimant look into telemedicine options through your insurance providers, your individual doctor’s office and if you are without health insurance, through the local hospital systems (e.g., Duke and UNC).  We also suggest that you keep all treatment records received after each telemedicine session and that you keep your case manager updated whether you have received telemedicine services or not so that we are able to make use of those records in your disability claim.  Should you have any questions related to the use of telemedicine services, please contact Henson Fuerst at 919-781-1107 or by submitting a free consultation form online.