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Why You Should Keep a Journal for Your Disability Claim

August 31, 2021 Disability

The primary basis for a determination of eligibility for Social Security disability benefits is objective medical evidence — things like test results, lab findings, imaging, etc. A claimant’s own self-described symptoms can also play a role, particularly where they align with the symptoms that would be expected for the condition they suffer. But it is easy to forget every little detail and how often each symptom occurs. That is why you should document your symptoms with the help of a journal, as our Baltimore Social Security Disability lawyer explains. 

How a Social Security Disability Journal Helps

A journal can supplement objective medical evidence by providing the Social Security Administration (SSA) a full picture of your eligibility for disability benefits. It can reveal insights that you would not have access to otherwise. For example, with a journal you can document new symptoms on the exact date they occur, how frequently they occur, and how long they last. Having this information in hand allows you to give your doctors more specific answers than if you were relying on memory alone. It can also provide reliable, documentary evidence that you suffer the symptoms you claim to suffer. For example, if you are applying for benefits in December, it bolsters your argument if you can document that you suffered a certain symptom in May.  

What to Include in Your Social Security Disability Journal 

It is better to be over-inclusive than under-inclusive in your journal. Put anything in it that is relevant to your disability, including your ability to work, your symptoms, your mental state, and anything else you can think of. It does not have to be a purely clinical listing of symptoms with dates and times; you can also describe how your day went, what you did, and how your disability affected your ability to do the things you enjoy. Just be sure that you keep it organized so that you can find specific pieces of information later. Also keep in mind that someone else — your doctors or the SSA, for example — may see it at some point, so write accordingly. 

Some common things to add to your journal include: 

  • The onset date of your disability 
  • Listing of symptoms, their severity, and their frequency
  • Medical care and treatments you received
  • The names of your doctors, the dates of your visits, and what was done
  • The side effects you experience from medications
  • Daily physical limitations 
  • Changes in your health or condition
  • Changes in your mental state
  • How your disability is affecting your ability to work (if you’re working) 
  • Home treatments or remedies you’ve tried, and how they worked
  • Photographs of the extent of your disability and how it has changed over time (if applicable)
  • Statements from family and friends on their impression of your disability 

Contact a Baltimore Social Security Disability Lawyer for Further Information 

For more information about keeping a disability journal and how it can help your case, please contact Baltimore Social Security Disability lawyer Emmett B. Irwin by calling 443-839-0818 or using our online contact form.