Talking About Your Limitations Is Crucial to Winning Disability Claims
A man called me the other day and explained the many reasons why he was not able to work. He had filed for disability, but the insurance company and Social Security denied his claims. He told me about his diabetes and how he could not control his blood sugar. He also told me about a bad back problem that has been nagging him for years, and how it got worse recently when he tripped and fell. He could not understand why his disability was denied. I thought his claim sounded solid, and told him I would investigate his case.
When I got his records and analyzed them, I knew immediately why his disability claims were denied – no one other than my client knew how his disabilities impact him. His case made me think to write this article about telling others why it is important to tell others how their disability is impacting them when filing a disability claim.
Tell your doctors your symptoms…AND your limitations and restrictions.
When you are injured or suffer from a serious illness, the diagnosis is not your disability. Instead, your conditions(s) cause symptoms, and you are disabled because of how those symptoms limit and restrict you. If you do not tell your doctors about those symptoms and the resulting restrictions and limitations, the doctor will never be able to describe how you are limited or restricted due to your disability.
Tell your family and friends what is disabling you too!
In the same way your doctors cannot know your restrictions and limitations, you need to tell them to your family and friends too. A statement from a family member, friend, former co-worker, or neighbor can be very effective in a disability claim.
So, what kind of limitations and restrictions do you talk about?
You want to think about any type of symptom that limits your ability to work. Here are some examples, but by no means is this an exhaustive list:
- pain that limits activities like sitting, standing, walking, etc.
- the need to lie down multiple times per day
- concentration or focus problems
- memory problems
- difficulty using one’s hands
There are many, many more. Start at the top of your head, and think about every problem you have. Talk with people about all of your problems.
Be specific, not general, about your limitations and restrictions.
Very few disabilities completely prevent someone from doing an activity totally. For example, a severe back injury usually does not keep someone from sitting at all. Instead, they may only be able to sit for a limited period of time, say 15 to 30 minutes, before they must lie down. Despite this, people routinely tell doctors and other people things like, “I can’t sit.”
You have to be accurate in what you describe to people. “I can’t sit,” says that you cannot sit at all. A private investigator who catches you on video sitting for a few minutes has proven you are a liar. Instead, being specific (often using ranges, because few problems stay the same very day), allows you to describe your disability in a way that will help you.
Not every condition keeps you from working. However, you need the disability insurance adjuster or government rep to consider all of your symptoms. In a disability insurance, ERISA, or SSD case, all of your symptoms combine to impact your inability to work. In a VA compensation case, VA will only consider all of your service connected conditions.
The key is to be specific about how you are limited. Here are some examples (again, not an exhaustive list of all possible limitations):
- I can only sit for 15 to 30 minutes before I must lie down.
- I can walk about a block, and then I have to sit.
- I cannot stand longer than 10 minutes before I must sit.
- I am so fatigued, I have to sit down after 10 minutes of activity.
- I must take naps every 2 to 3 hours because I am so sleepy from my medication.
The key to being specific is to tell the absolute truth. You will never deviate from the truth. The last thing you want is to tell someone about restrictions that you do not actually have. So, instead of saying, “I cannot sit,” you should describe how you can actually sit for short periods and then what happens. If you are captured on video surveillance sitting, you will be happy you told the accurate specific truth, not some general statement.
TAKEAWAY: You do not have to prove you are in a coma to win a disability claim. Instead, you have to prove that your symptoms cause limitations and restrictions that keep you from working a job on a regular basis. Telling those around you about your symptoms and how they limit or restrict you can help win your disability claim.
If your disability claim was denied, call our team of experienced disability attorneys at (866) 282-5260. We handle disability insurance, ERISA, Social Security Disability, and VA Compensation cases.