A Pittsburgh disability lawyer will likely recommend that anyone hoping to obtain Social Security disability benefits keep a symptom diary.
A symptom diary can take many forms –- a journal, a calendar, a chart, a spreadsheet. Anything that allows you to routinely record specific, disability-related symptoms can be a “symptom diary.”
Pittsburgh Social Security disability cases often are won or lost at the administrative hearing. At the hearing, the judge will ask you questions about your ability to function (to sit, stand, walk, lift, carry, etc.) and about how your disability impacts your daily activities. The more specific details and anecdotes you can provide, the stronger your testimony will be, and the greater the likelihood your claim for Pittsburgh disability benefits will be approved.
For example, the claimant who testifies, “My back hurts,” presents a much weaker case than the claimant who testifies: “The pain is localized in my lower back and travels down my right leg. Most days, the pain is fairly intense — a 6 out of 10. I experienced this kind of intense pain 25 days out of 30 last month. Over the past 6 months, I had 4 episodes where the pain was so intense – a 9 out 10 – that I had to spend the entire day lying on my back on the floor.”
As a practical matter, there often is a lengthy delay between the time you file your application for Pittsburgh Social Security disability benefits and the day of your hearing. Regardless of how good your memory is, the quality and accuracy of your testimony will suffer if you do not have a written record of how and when your symptoms have affected your daily life.
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In most instances, your medical condition will dictate the type of diary (or diaries) that would be most effective for your case. Some examples of symptom diaries include:
Your Pittsburgh disability lawyer can counsel you on the best type of diary for your case. If you are not presently represented by a Pittsburgh disability lawyer, you can begin on your own. Think about the symptom that troubles you the most –- pain, fatigue, shortness of breath, etc — and start to focus on when and how that symptom affects you. Take notes. Any written record will be better than relying solely on your memory.
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