Preparing For Your Social Security Disability or SSI Hearing
KEEP A DIARY.For a few weeks before the hearing keep a daily diary which details everything you do from the time you get up in the morning until you go to bed at night. Record how well you sleep, how many times you wake up during the night. Write out a description of your pain. Describe in detail how you feel at various times of the day. Keep track of the things you do during the day to accommodate your disability such as naps, rest periods, what you do to relieve pain or discomfort, and requests for assistance from relatives and friends. Note all medications taken. Describe everything you do during the day. The details are very important.
Judges understand that you do not have to be bedridden to be disabled. Claimants who go through the exercise of keeping a daily diary are able to give a much more detailed description of their usual day than those who do not keep a diary. A detailed, concrete description of your daily life given in testimony can make all the difference.
MAKE A LIST OF THINGS YOU USED TO DO BUT CAN NO LONGER DO.If you think about it for a few minutes, you will realize that there is a long list of hobbies, sports or spare time activities you used to do but no longer are able to do because of your disability. It is important for you to think carefully about these things so that you can testify about them effectively at your hearing. It helps to make notes about your former activities to discuss with your representative.
MAKE A LIST OF MEDICATIONS.Most judges will request that you bring to the hearing a list of medications you are currently taking. Even if the judge does not request such a list, you should prepare one. Include on the list the condition for which you are taking the medication, the name of the prescribing doctor, the size of the dosage you take, how often you take the medication and a description of any side effects. For medications marked "prn" or "take as needed," you can use your daily diary to record how often you take the medication.
It will help your representative for you to make a list of medications you have taken for your condition in the past but which you are no longer taking. Such a list may show medication changes which are characteristic of the progress of certain medical conditions or it may demonstrate the difficulty your doctor has had in controlling your medical condition.
WRITE OUT A DESCRIPTION OF YOUR JOB DUTIES ON YOUR FORMER JOBS.Writing out your job duties helps organize your description of your former jobs. The administrative law judge must know just what your former jobs required to determine why, with your disability, you no longer can do them.
MEET WITH YOUR REPRESENTATIVE.The most important meeting with your representative is the meeting where you go over your testimony. You should bring your diary, your lists, your job descriptions and any completed forms which the judge sent you to bring to the hearing.
The purpose of the diary, the lists and the job descriptions is to help you and your representative prepare for testimony. These items will not ordinarily be introduced into evidence or referred to by you during your testimony.
It may be helpful to bring to the meeting with your representative a friend or relative who can testify at the hearing about the limitations in your daily life caused by your disability. However, you should consult your representative prior to bringing a witness to this meeting.