If you’re disabled and unable to work, you may have applied for Social Security disability benefits—and if you’re like a lot of people, you’ve probably run into some problems. Proving that you’re disabled and entitled to benefits is harder than it sounds. You have to establish both:
- your eligibility for benefits, based on your income and work history; and
- your medical qualification, established by proof of a life-limiting disability.
Disability examiners need to rule out the possibility that an applicant is exaggerating the severity of their illness or its effect on their ability to work. Here’s what you need to do to show that your disability is serious.
What You Need to Prove About Your Disability
The Social Security Administration notes that it will only consider you to be disabled if all three of the following are true:
- You can no longer do the work you used to do because of your medical condition.
- You cannot change to another type of work because of your medical condition.
- You expect to be, or already have been, disabled for at least a year, or you expect your disability to result in your death.
You may be able to show that because of your disability, you are unable to do basic activities that you would need to do on the job, such as lifting, walking, standing, sitting, or remembering information. Alternatively, you may have been diagnosed with a medical condition that is included on the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments.
So, what information do you need to prove that your disability satisfies these three factors?
Evidence That Can Help You Document Your Disability
If your medical condition is listed in the Listing of Impairments, check there first to see what documentation the Social Security Administration will want to see. For example, if you have severe asthma, you would need to show your medical records, including your medical history, any imaging such as x-ray or CT scans, the results of pulmonary function tests, and your response to any prescribed treatment.
Medical records aren’t the only evidence that can prove the severity of your disability. You should also keep track of days that you aren’t able to go to work due to your medical condition as well as the symptoms you experience each day.
Statements are another great source of evidence. Ask your primary care doctor to write a statement including your treatment so far, your response to that treatment, and your long-term prognosis. You may also be able to submit statements from your supervisors or coworkers describing how your ability to work has been impaired by your medical condition.
3 Tips to Prove Your Disability Claim
- Document everything—and keep it organized. You never know what record, note, or piece of evidence might be the final straw that makes your case, so keep everything you can. Just as importantly, keep your notes and records organized so that you can find what you need when you need it.
- Write in a journal. Your word by itself isn’t enough to establish your disability claim, but it’s a good way to remember everything that happens. Write down your symptoms each day, your treatments, the activities you could and couldn’t do, and any hours you worked.
- Document your efforts to get better. The disability examiner wants to see that you’re doing your best to recover and get back to work. Follow your doctor’s directions to the best of your ability and keep notes about everything that you’re doing to get better.
Proving your disability claim isn’t easy. If you’ve tried on your own and haven’t succeeded, you might need to talk with an experienced, local disability lawyer. Hunter & Everage is here to help, with experienced disability and personal injury lawyers in Richmond, Virginia, and Charlotte, North Carolina.