Roeschke Law, LLC discusses why medical schools should mandate training in caring for disabled patients.

Medical Schools Should Mandate Training in Caring for the Disabled

Q: Are Doctors Trained to Recognize and Treat Intellectually or Developmentally Disabled Patients?

Disability attorneys of Arizona are trained to help disabled people and their families navigate the complex process of accessing federal government disability benefits. 

Applying for disability benefits requires the applicant to meet the federal government’s definition of being “disabled”, meaning they suffer from a physical or mental impairment that prevents engaging in a substantial gainful activity and that the impairment has lasted or is expected to last for 12 months or more or result in death. For people applying for Social Security disability benefits, there is a list of impairments in something known as the “Blue Book”. The Blue Book outlines many recognized mental and physical conditions that are considered to be disabling.

While the Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits programs both require the applicant to meet the definition of “disabled”, the similarities in the programs end there. SSDI is available to applicants who satisfy the work credit history requirements and who paid into the Social Security system through payroll deductions before coming disabled. SSI does not require the applicant to have ever worked and is available only to those who are disabled, blind or over the age of 65 and who also have income and resources that fall below the government-prescribed threshold which is currently $2000 for an individual or $3000 for a married couple.

Qualifying for disability benefits in either program requires submission of a great deal of personal, financial and medical information including detailed medical records. Accordingly, the relationship between the applicant and their physician is critically important not only to the patient’s treatment but to the outcome of their disability benefits application. 

Recognizing this, disability advocacy groups are pressuring medical schools to mandate, within the standard medical school curriculum, specific training of future doctors in how “to treat people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.” Reportedly, “some providers incorrectly assume that people with disabilities don’t have a good quality of life or people with intellectual and developmental disabilities don’t experience pain.” 

How can these false assumptions and “disconnects” negatively impact the medical care of the disabled—and their disability benefits applications?

While some medical schools are open to voluntarily increasing efforts to train future doctors on the special needs of disabled patients, there has been pushback on mandating curriculum changes.

Contact Our Arizona Social Security Disability Attorney

Because the majority of initial claims for disability benefits are denied, having a skilled disability benefits attorney assist in the application and/or appeals process can be the difference between the ultimate granting or denial of these important benefits. 

If you need assistance with a Social Security disability benefits application or appealing the denial of an application, the Disability Attorneys of Arizona at Roeschke Law can help you. Contact us today for a free consultation

From our offices in Tempe, Phoenix, and Tucson, we represent disabled people and their families throughout Arizona.