A Disability Journal Can Improve Your Odds of Winning Your SSD Case

November 4, 2022

In Illinois, nearly 70% of initial Social Security Disability (SSD) claims are denied. One way to strengthen your application and improve your odds of being awarded the benefits you’ve earned is to keep a disability journal.

What is a disability journal?

Simply stated, a disability journal is a log that tracks how your disability affects your day-to-day activities and what you do to manage it. Aim for adding journal entries every day, or at least several times a week. This journal will help reinforce your medical records, tests, and statements from your healthcare providers. This is the evidence you will submit to prove to Social Security that, due to the limitations of your condition, you are unable to perform any job in the national economy. Your age, education and past work are also factors in your disability benefits application. The goal is for your journal to present a clear and vivid picture of how your disability affects your life.

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. If you have a gradually worsening condition, it is when you received a diagnosis of your condition. Your onset date will affect when your disability benefits 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 details. For example, if you need help or reminders with things like hygiene or taking medication, you should document it.

  • 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 life events that you had to miss because of pain or other physical limitations.

  • Write down physical side effects like nausea, fatigue, dizziness, etc., which are directly caused by your disability or 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.

  • If you have a condition with acute symptoms, like seizures, headaches, or panic attacks, you should document each time it occurs, the nature of the symptoms, how long they last, and recovery time.

  • Add input from a family member or friend. They may notice things that you do not remember, and they can help with your journal entry, or write one of their own for you.

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 health care providers.

Keep a log of all the medications you take for your disability and record your treatments and therapies and their results.

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 Accountability Office study revealed that if a claimant had a representative such as an attorney with them at their disability hearing, they were almost three times more likely to be allowed benefits than someone without representation.

The Chicagoland disability attorneys at Nash Disability Law stand ready to fight for your rights. Call or email us for a free evaluation of your case. We have offices in Chicago and Palos Hills to serve you.