Learn How a Disability Journal Can Help Your Disability Claim
As you prepare a short or long-term disability claim, you’ll face countless questions about your symptoms, limitations, and daily activities. It can be difficult to articulate accurate, honest answers to questions about your ability to stand, lift, and walk. Thankfully, there are tools that can help.
At Bryant Legal Group, we suggest keeping a disability journal to help you understand the full extent of your symptoms and limitations, giving you information that may lead to a stronger application for benefits and streamlined claim process.
In this article, we explain the essentials of disability journaling and symptom tracking.
What Is a Disability Journal?
A disability journal isn’t like your junior high diary. Instead, it is a detailed log of your symptoms, daily activities, treatment, and other important information related to your condition or circumstances. Depending on your personal preferences, you may use a daily calendar or planner, a notebook, or a symptom tracking app like Flaredown.
Whether you like to write on paper or track your symptoms electronically, your disability journal should include the following information every day:
- Physical and mental symptoms
- Pain and fatigue levels
- Daily activities and how long you could sustain them
- Frequency, duration, and reason for your rest periods or naps
- Treatment protocols — including medications, use of heat or ice, and elevating your legs
- Side effects from medications or therapy
- Identified triggers that worsen your symptoms — including high stress, weather, diet, and social interaction
Depending on your medical conditions and diagnosis, you may want to add other specific criteria. If you need help building your journal, consult with your doctors and disability lawyer.
You’ll want to be as specific as possible when you track your symptoms. For example, don’t just note that your pain or depression is “bad.” Instead, track it on a ten-point scale, with one being almost no issues and ten being debilitating symptoms that require hospitalization.
3 Reasons Why a Disability Journal May Strengthen Your Long-Term Disability (LTD) Claim
Admittedly, keeping a detailed disability journal isn’t the simplest process. You’ll need to think deeply and honestly about your symptoms, capabilities, and limitations. However, we believe that symptom-tracking and journaling can refine your disability insurance claim and improve your conversations with your physicians.
1. It’s Easy to Adjust to Your “New Normal” and Ignore Your Symptoms
Humans are remarkably resilient. As you learn to cope with chronic pain, symptoms that wax and wane, and your permanent limitations, it’s easy to adjust and feel as if you’re living your normal life.
This is problematic when you are completing a disability insurance application. When you become too accustomed to your daily routine and chronic issues, it’s easy to miss out on important details about your daily life. When you consistently journal your symptoms and daily activities, however, it can help you articulate and understand the challenges you face.
For example, when you’re filling out your disability application, you may be asked questions about your ability to do chores or cook meals. It’s easy to say that you do these things “normally.” However, your journal might highlight that your meals are now microwaveable “heat and eat” choices or that you typically take a two-hour nap after a half-hour of cleaning.
2. Symptom Journaling Helps Track the Progression of Your Symptoms
Most people’s symptoms change and develop over time. For this reason, it’s a good idea to start your disability journal early on — even before you become unable to work. Your flares might become more frequent or plateau. Your activity tolerances might decrease. It’s easy to ignore or adjust to your symptoms.
A journal can help you identify the frequency and duration of symptomatic flares, symptomatic progression, and exactly when your conditions began to negatively impact your work, hobbies, and homelife.
3. A Symptom Journal Can Help You Discuss Your Conditions With Your Doctors
We’re all guilty of telling our doctors we’re doing “okay” when we’re really not. Some people would rather not admit their vulnerability; others struggle to define their symptoms.
Rather than telling your doctor that you had “a couple flares” since your last visit, you can bring your disability journal with you to your appointments. Then, you can use the information within to help explain your symptoms’ frequency, duration, and impact with precision.
When your doctors understand your situation, they can craft more detailed medical records, work restrictions, and treatment recommendations. Together, these factors can improve the quality of your care, your likelihood of improvement, and the viability of your disability insurance claim.
Bryant Legal Group: Helping Disabled Workers Get the Benefits They Deserve
If you’re considering filing an application for disability insurance benefits, it’s a good idea to consult with an experienced long-term disability lawyer early on.
Bryant Legal Group has guided countless disabled individuals through their insurance claims and has a reputation for exceptional service and sophisticated strategies. You can reach us by calling 312-561-3010 or completing this brief online form.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.