Use of Personal Health “Diaries” as Evidence at Your Disability Hearing

Personal health diaries can help prove disability claims based on medical conditions that increase or decrease in their severity. For example, an individual with a pulmonary condition causing recurring “attacks” may have adequate control of their symptoms most days, but the severity and frequency of asthma attacks, recurring bronchitis or pulmonary infections or “flares,” are such that the person can’t hold a job. In general, medical conditions that cause an individual to miss work two or more work days per calendar month on an ongoing basis for at least one year will meet the SSA criteria for disability.

Because medical symptoms can vary from day to day, we often recommend that our clients keep a calendar or “diary” of their bad days in which their symptoms are so severe that they would not be able to function in a job during those flares. Some of the conditions for which record-keeping can be helpful include severe recurring migraines; seizures; pulmonary impairments; Bipolar Disorder; certain forms of inflammatory arthritis; and unusually frequent passage of kidney stones, among others.

While typical wall calendars can be used to record these disabling attacks, free diaries to record and track flares of symptoms can also be downloaded from the Internet.

For seizures:; or;

For Migraines:;

For Asthma attacks:

These completed diaries should also be shown to your health care providers so that your doctors can be made fully aware of your “episodes.” Diaries are also useful to describe the effects of the frequency of medical treatment on the ability to hold a job. For example, clients can be shown to be unemployable because of the frequency of their medical treatment appointments, e.g. those who require ongoing medication infusions, therapy or other treatments causing missed work hours beyond the allowances of the typical employer.

For our clients, we have successfully submitted diaries as compelling visual evidence to the Social Security Administration to show how incapacitating the episodic symptoms can be. If you have questions about how to keep a personal medical diary, please feel free to contact us at the LaPorte Law Firm.

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