The key to winning approval of a Social Security Disability claim is offering enough concrete evidence to Social Security to prove that your health impairments prevent you from sustaining full-time competitive employment on a consistent and reliable basis.
As you would expect, medical records and statements from your doctor that support your claim are at the top of the list of relevant evidence. However, there is one resource for evidence that is often overlooked—a statement from a former employer and/or co-worker.
Often, he or she is quite familiar with how the limitations caused by your medical conditions got in the way of you being able to do the required work. A statement to that effect from a former employer or co-worker (or statements from multiple ex-employers and co-workers) can be persuasive supporting evidence for your disability claim.
In part, disability claims hinge on your credibility as an applicant, and written testimony from a former employer that syncs with what you are telling Social Security can go a long way in bolstering your reports.
The best format for a supporting letter from a former employer is for them to write about your abilities and work ethic before you became incapacitated. Then your former boss should detail how your impairment began to impact your ability to do your work every day and how you eventually had to stop working altogether.
Here is an example of what an employer letter might look like:
My name is Michael B___ and I was Maria L___’s supervisor at the ABC Company. Maria worked for us as a warehouse specialist from January 2016 to September 2022.
For years her work was exemplary, and she had an excellent work ethic, but the heavy labor of her job took a toll on her. She suffered multiple health problems, the most serious being back pain which made it excruciatingly painful for her to engage in any physical activity. Due to her impairments she had to take frequent rest breaks and then she began to miss many days of work altogether. We moved Maria to the office where we had her filing papers and stuffing envelopes. However, even this was too difficult for her, and she continued to miss work or leave early. Unfortunately the situation eventually became untenable, and we had to let Maria go.
But what if your ex-boss is unfamiliar with the day-to-day details of your work or is unwilling to submit a statement?
Then perhaps a co-worker could provide testimony on your behalf. Whoever provides you with a statement should share what they witnessed in terms of your difficulties performing your work duties due to your health, and they should discuss missed days, mistakes, etc. Write-ups and termination letters are also good supporting evidence, so you should save those and present them as evidence.
Also, don’t overlook information about job losses, which can be like gold for disability benefits applicants. As we wrote about in a separate blog post, if your employment was terminated—maybe even on more than one occasion—because a mental or physical impairment made it impossible to meet your employer’s requirements for your position—it can support your argument that you are unable to work and therefore you are entitled to disability benefits.
Proof of multiple job losses, or even one job loss, demonstrates that you have made the effort to work, but were unable to continue due to your impairment. This can be persuasive evidence to a Social Security administrative law judge (ALJ) who will decide the merits of your case at a disability benefits appeal hearing.
If you are unable to work due to a physical or mental impairment and are considering applying for disability benefits, or if you have been turned down for benefits, you don’t have to take on Social Security alone.
The experienced disability attorneys at Nash Disability Law can guide you through the process and fight for the benefits you have rightfully earned. Call or email Nash Disability Law for a free evaluation of your situation.