Filing for Social Security Disability (SSD) is, far too often, a complex process for people with disabilities. The key to approval is largely making sure that the Social Security Administration (SSA) receives sufficient medical evidence to support your claim.
That can seem pretty difficult to do when one of the primary limiting symptoms of your condition is pain. Your pain is real, but it isn’t the sort of thing that doctors can measure on a lab test.
Fortunately, a pain journal can help. When you keep a journal that documents your pain and how it negatively affects you on a daily basis, that journal can become part of your medical records. The steady documentation of your symptoms over time helps give veracity to your claims.
A step-by-step guide on how to keep a pain journal
Your pain journal doesn’t have to be fancy. A simple notebook that you can easily carry with you to doctor’s appointments will do. To keep a good pain journal:
- Note the date and time: Start each entry with the date and time of the pain occurrence. This will help you identify patterns or triggers and can help you avoid them.
- Rate your pain: Use a pain scale to rate the intensity of your pain. You can use a numeric scale (e.g., 0 to 10) or descriptive terms (e.g., mild, moderate, severe).
- Describe the pain: Where is the pain located? Is it sharp, dull, throbbing, burning or something else? Try to be as descriptive as possible.
- Note any triggers you spot: Pay attention to anything that may trigger or influence your pain. This can include your regular daily activities, weather conditions and stress levels.
- Document your pain relief measures: Write down the measure you’ve taken for relief, such as medications, hot/cold packs, relaxation techniques or alternative therapies. Note whether these measures were effective at providing relief and, if so, for how long.
- Be consistent about the process: It’s important to record your observations as soon as possible both for accuracy and to avoid forgetting important details. Again, consistency is key to a pain journal’s usefulness.
Make sure that you take your pain journal with you to every doctor’s visit to discuss with your provider so that your observations are documented in the records that will ultimately be reviewed by SSA.
If you’re struggling to get your Social Security Disability claim approved, seek legal guidance. You don’t have to navigate this process without assistance.