12173490_sMany people in Chicago, Illinois have heard that getting a Social Security Disability claim approved can be difficult. According to the Social Security Administration, the average rate of denied disability claims from 1999 to 2009 was 53 percent. Just 28 percent of claims were approved initially. Current and prospective applicants who are concerned about these odds can take one simple step to improve their likelihood of success: start a journal to document the condition and the daily challenges it introduces.

Why written records help

Writing in a journal can help victims maintain an articulate record of their pain and difficulties. Describing the pain symptoms a condition causes or the way a condition affects daily life can be challenging. However, doing so is often essential to proving the condition is truly disabling. People who establish the habit of journaling regularly will gradually find it easier to explain the effects of their disability in a clear and convincing manner.

The length of the SSD application process is another reason keeping a journal can be beneficial. According to the SSA, an initial decision is usually made within three to five months. Since more than two-thirds of initial claims are denied, many applicants make appeals long after their conditions manifested. These people are at risk for forgetting potentially important information. People with conditions affecting memory or other cognitive abilities should be especially careful to establish a record of how the condition developed and progressed.

Essentials to document 

People who are planning to apply for SSD benefits should try to spend five minutes every day jotting down any experiences or issues relating to the disabling condition. These could include:

  • Pain intensity and location
  • Medications taken
  • Other prescribed treatments
  • Reactions to those treatments
  • Daily physical limitations

For instance, an individual might note which tasks were painful, difficult to perform or physically impossible to complete. If possible, individuals should also record how the condition affects their ability to perform tasks that were part of a past job and tasks associated with sedentary work.

Individuals should also consider documenting the days when their symptoms become tolerable or subside completely. Applicants who appear to be withholding information or making inconsistent statements about their functional abilities may be denied benefits. A claim will be more credible if the applicant acknowledges functional days while providing proof that such days are not the norm.

An individual who is working with a Chicago Social Security disability lawyer should make sure to share the contents of the journal with the attorney. This information can be invaluable in helping the attorney understand the condition and determine which approach is most likely to yield a successful outcome.

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