Notebook and pen Black and white

Documentation of symptoms, treatments and daily effects

Many Social Security Disability claims are not approved solely on the strength of medical records. Instead, claim decisions often depend on the unique symptoms and limitations a condition causes. As any Illinois Social Security Disability attorney can attest, applicants usually must personally document and describe these effects. A journal can be invaluable in helping applicants accurately remember and explain the effects of their disabling conditions.

Preserving key information

Applicants can use journaling to record various daily impacts of their medical conditions. Through a journal, applicants can track symptoms and functional limitations they face at work or elsewhere. To create a thorough record, applicants can also record their medical treatments and any associated gains or side effects.

Applicants should be careful to record their symptoms and limitations in specific, descriptive language. Applicants should note the location, frequency and severity of symptoms, along with any precipitating factors. Similarly, applicants should describe exactly how or why the disabling medical condition affects their ability to perform daily activities.

Applicants can also use journaling to track the course and effectiveness of the treatments they receive. Social Security may deny a claim if the disabling condition could be managed through treatment without adverse side effects. Thus, applicants should focus on documenting the limitations of the available treatments.

Benefits during claims

As any Illinois Social Security Disability attorney knows, the nature and severity of some conditions are not externally apparent. Journaling can strengthen claims involving conditions that are complex or difficult to establish with objective evidence alone. Such conditions include emotional illnesses or pain disorders, such as depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia and chronic pain.

Keeping a journal can also offer benefits for people with more readily apparent conditions. The following factors make journaling advisable for most applicants:

  • The SSD claim process is rarely quick. Applicants who must appeal denials often do so months after filing their claims. After this delay, remembering symptoms and functional limitations can be challenging.
  • Vagueness or inconsistency can make a claim appear less credible. Unfortunately, describing symptoms such as pain in a precise manner can be difficult. Journaling helps applicants practice articulating their symptoms and daily struggles.
  • SSD applicants must support their claims with documentation from medical sources and even personal sources. A journal can help these people understand an applicant’s condition and its impacts.

Additionally, a journal may help illustrate the progression of the disabling condition. Small changes that occur gradually may be easier to detect through journal entries.

As any Illinois Social Security Disability attorney can confirm, journaling does not have to be a difficult or time-consuming task. Short but detailed daily notes can strengthen an applicant’s claim and even significantly affect the final outcome.