Pain is a major factor in many chronic, disabling conditions – and it can be tremendously limiting. It’s something that absolutely deserves to be factored into any decision regarding whether or not someone deserves Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits or not.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to quantify pain in a way that the claims examiners can understand, because pain is a very unique experience. What might barely cause one person to slow down a little can be utterly debilitating to someone else.
A journal can make it easier to show how pain affects you
It’s not enough to simply tell the Social Security Administration (SSA) that you have pain. You have to illustrate exactly how the pain affects you. This is where a pain journal can help.
With that in mind, here’s how to keep a good record:
- Pick a method. It doesn’t matter if you use a notebook or a digital journal, so long as it’s easy to maintain.
- Note the date. You want to try to record your experiences with pain daily. If you have a pain-free (or low-pain) day, it’s okay to note that.
- Rate your pain. A 0-10 scale (where zero is “no pain” and 10 is absolute agony) can make it easy to review how pain has affected you over a set period with just a glance.
- Document the effects: You want to note things like whether you spent the whole day in bed, whether you were unable to shower without help and whether you had to rest after just making yourself a sandwich. The goal is to illustrate exactly how your pain affects your ability to function.
Remember, consistency is key to your success when it comes to using your pain journal to support your SSDI claim. The more consistent you are about your documentation, the more weight it will have. Make sure that you take it with you to every doctor’s visit and have copies entered into your medical records.
Obtaining SSDI benefits is seldom easy, and the system can be very unfair. That’s why many people look for experienced legal guidance to help them get through the process.