Always list all your various symptoms on your Disability Application

Tip 6:

A person's various symptoms can go a long way toward establishing just how functionally limited they are. And those symptoms, such as pain or fatigue, will carry much more weight when they're supported by the medical records; in other words "objective medical findings".

However, those symptoms help cannot support a case if they are not listed by the claimant. Remember, disability decisions are made on the totality of the evidence available to the decision-maker, who may, depending on the level of the claim, be a disability examiner, or a federal administrative law judge.

Symptoms, daily activities, and functional limitations

A person who is trying to win Social Security Disability or SSI disability benefits should list their various symptoms they have. They may also wish to list the effects of each condition they have. This would include any difficulty they have in certain physical areas such as the ability to sit, stand, walk, reach, bend, lift, carry, see, or hear. It would also include any difficulties they have in cognitive areas such as difficulty in concentrating, difficulty in remembering, difficulty in adhering to work schedules, etc.

Why is this so important? It has to do with how disability claims are decided. An SSA disability examiner (who works on the case at the application and reconsideration levels) or an administrative law judge (who decides the case at the hearing level) will need to establish, first of all, after reviewing the medical evidence, whether or not a claimant has a specific listing level condition. If they do have have a condition that is contained in the SSA listings, or blue book, and their medical evidence satisfies the requirements of the listing, they may be approved.

However, if they do not have an impairment that meets or equals a listing, and this is true in most claims, they will be in the position of having to win their case by demonstrating that they have significant functional limitations that limit their ability to engage in normal activities of daily living.

Normal daily activities include routine tasks such as dressing oneself (the inability to close buttons on a shirt may be the result of impaired finger movement), reaching overhead (another manipulative limitation), and carrying groceries into the house (which might be limited by a wide range of conditions including those that affect the ability to lift, carry, balance, or bend).

These are just a few examples but it should be apparent why a disability examiner will inquire into a claimant's daily activities because the answers that are obtained can serve to illustrate the impact that a medical condition, or set of conditions, can have on the ability to perform normal activities, which can translate to the ability to engage in work-related activities.

Terms discussed:

  • How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply for disability for?

  • Basic Facts about the Administrative Law Judge Social Security Disability Hearing

  • How Does A Disability Examiner Determine a Person's Functional Limitations?

  • How Far Back Does Social Security Look At Your Medical Records?

  • About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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