What Not to Say When Filling Out Social Security Disability Papers

It's more important to focus on saying as much as you can about your disability.

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What an individual filing for disability should worry about is what they should say while filling out their disability paperwork, rather than what they should not say. The outcome of many disability claims depends upon how well an individual's disability paperwork is completed. Disability decisions are based upon a lot of information, and the main source for that information is the disability paperwork provided by the claimant at their initial Social Security disability interview (or on the form you fill out online). Giving a detailed account of your condition, medical history, and work activity can allow a disability claims examiner or administrative law judge to make a favorable determination in your Social Security disability claim.

Be Detailed About Your Symptoms and Limitations

You should be forthcoming about your medical and/or mental conditions and how they affect your life. As a former disability claims examiner, I find that many individuals tend to underestimate the effect that their impairments have had upon their lives. Many individuals tend to play down, or condense, their symptoms when filling out disability papers. The best advice I can give is to fill out your disability paperwork truthfully and to the best of your ability. You should give a detailed description of your medical and/or mental impairments, medication side effects, and how the impairment or impairments affect your ability to maintain substantial work activity.

Be Detailed About the Requirements of Your Past Work

The disability examiner handling your claim may ask you to fill out additional paperwork, such as a work history questionnaire. Make sure you give a detailed accounting of all of your work duties for each type of work that you stayed at for more than three months. For example, if you lifted 100 pounds once a week, you should say that your job required this type of lifting occasionally. The claims examiner will be looking at the skill level and physical demands required by each type of work that an applicant has performed (for longer than three months) during the fifteen years prior to becoming disabled. 

The Importance of Your Work History

Why are details about your past work important? The majority of Social Security disability approvals are "medical-vocational allowances," which are decisions that take into account a disability applicant's work history, education, age, and medical impairments. Your past work figures heavily into this equation. Learn more about how past relevant work affects your disability claim.

By: Tim Moore, former Social Security disability claims examiner

Updated by: , J.D.

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