Record your symptoms to help prove your New Jersey Social Security disability claim
We suggest that our Middlesex County, Ocean County, and Monmouth County Social Security disability clients keep a diary to record their symptoms. Clients are sometimes hesitant and unsure how to start. However, by the time we are preparing them to testify at their hearing they are very glad that they kept a diary. Here are some hints about how to keep a diary that can significantly help your case.
Keep a monthly or daily diary
Keep a diary or chart or record of your symptoms. Doing this might seem like a little bit of work at first, but once you get used to it, then it will become routine. And having this sort of record of your life will be invaluable to your New Jersey Social Security disability attorney and your doctor, and will greatly improve your chances at your hearing.
Claimants who keep a record of their symptoms are able to provide a much more detailed explanation of their condition to the Administrative Law Judge than those who do not.
What should you record?
The types of things that you keep a record of varies depending on your situation. Basically, you want to be able to show the history, including the frequency and intensity, of your symptoms. You may have more than one symptom, so you may want to keep more than one record. And, in addition to recording the measurements of your symptoms, you may want to keep track of how the symptom affected your life, such as requiring you to cancel appointments or avoid activities or take extra rest.
What you record will depend on your condition and the nature of your impairment. Some of the more common things that people keep a written log of are:
- Pain. If you are keeping a record of your pain (for example, headaches), you might include when the pain starts, how long it lasts, how intense it is, what the specific characteristics are, what you do to cope with the pain, and what medication you take to deal with it.
- Sleep. You might want to record how well you sleep, how many times you wake up during the night, and how much you need to sleep during the day.
- Fatigue. Measure the severity of your fatigue for each day of the week on a scale of 1 to 10. Also keep track of what parts of your body are affected and how long you need to rest to recover.
- Medications. You will probably need to supply the judge with a list of your current medications. If your medications change over time, or if you take some of them “as needed” then a record of your medication dosages and schedule can show your condition in more detail. For medications with strong side effects, your medication record might correlate to one of your symptom records.
- Activities. You might keep a record of specific activities that you are required to do because of your condition. This could also include a list of the activities that you used to be able to do, but no longer can.
Some sample symptom charts
You can design your own symptom diary or chart or log to show the things that you need to keep track of for your case. However, here are a couple of examples:
This is a sample headache chart that you could use to keep track of your history of headaches. For each day of the month indicate whether you had a headache, how severe it was, how long it lasted, and its symptoms.
Click here for a full PDF version of the monthly headache diary.
Here is a general pain chart, where you keep track of pain episodes and how they affect your life.
We can help
Developing the best possible case for your Social Security disability claim requires careful attention to detail and the guidance of a knowledgeable disability lawyer. If you are not already represented by a New Jersey Social Security disability attorney and want our evaluation of your case, give us a brief description of your claim using the form to the right. Or you may contact us at:
Zager Fuchs, PC
New Jersey Social Security disability attorneys
P.O. Box 489
268 Broad Street
Red Bank, New Jersey 07701