In Nebraska more than 51% of initial Social Security Disability claims are denied. In Iowa the denial rate is even higher at more than 56%. Denial of a disability claim can often be attributed to an applicant’s weak and incomplete files which do not accurately document the severity of their disabling impairment(s).
You can strengthen your application and improve your odds of being awarded the benefits you have earned by keeping a disability journal.
What is a disability journal?
Simply stated it is a log that tracks how your disability affects your day-to-day living and what you do to manage it. Aim for adding journal entries every day or at least several times a week. The way you keep your journal does not matter much. Your journal could be entries in a spiral notebook or on computer. This journal will help reinforce the medical records, tests, and statements from your healthcare providers which you will submit to prove to Social Security how, due to the limitations of your condition, you are unable to perform any job in the national economy, considering your age, education, and past work. The goal is for your journal to present a clear and vivid picture of how your disability affects your life. (But do not exaggerate what you are experiencing.)
What your disability journal might include:
- The onset date of your disability—the day you stopped being able to work due to your condition. If you were injured this would be the date of your injury or if you have a gradually worsening condition, it is when you received a diagnosis of your condition. Because Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) applicants have a five-month waiting period before they can begin receiving benefits, your onset date will affect when your back pay starts.
- Any daily activities you cannot accomplish without assistance. Of course, this should include how your condition affects your ability to work. Be precise and include even small details.
- Track your daily pain levels using a 1-10 pain scale. Describe, as best you can, the nature of the pain (like achiness, stabbing pain, or throbbing pain).
- Record changes in your ability to prepare your meals, to groom yourself, or to drive and run errands.
- Include important events that you missed because of pain or other physical limitations.
- Write down physical side effects like nausea, fatigue, dizziness, etc. directly caused by your disability or which are side effects from your medications. Similarly, if you have mental side effects like confusion, depression, forgetfulness, etc. make a note of those in your journal, too.
And use your journal to document the treatments for your disability.
Record all the dates of the medical appointments related to your impairment and keep track of phone calls to your healthcare providers, as well.
Keep a log of all the medications you take for your disability and record your treatments and therapies and what the results are.
Having a well-written journal can strengthen your application and improve the odds of you being awarded disability benefits. Another way to improve your chances is with expert representation. A Government Accounting Office study revealed that if a claimant had a representative such as an attorney, they were three times more likely to be allowed benefits than someone who had no representation at all. The experienced disability attorneys at Cuddigan Law stand ready to fight for your rights. Call or email us for a free evaluation of your case. (And we only get paid if you win your case.)