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Winning Your Disability Case with the Help of Co-Workers, Family Members and Friends

In a Social Security disability claim, the credibility of the claimant is often the determining factor of whether the claim is approved or denied. For cases involving chronic pain or fatigue, such as fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome, the credibility of the claimant is usually crucial to success. The reason for this of course is due to the fact that those diagnoses involve subjective symptoms and limitations that usually cannot be objectively quantified by medical or laboratory tests.

Thus, SSA and judges will listen to the claimant’s story about why they are unable to work due to the frequency, severity and duration of their symptoms; but they will also look for corroborating evidence from other sources such as doctors or individuals who know the claimant.

As you may know, my practice is exclusively disability law and I specialize in chronic pain and fatigue cases representing clients throughout the United States. Over the past several years I have won disability cases before SSA and judges throughout the United States. While winning hundreds of cases and losing only a small percentage of them, I have learned a great deal about how to win chronic pain and fatigue disability cases as well as the importance of a client’s credibility.

A tool I have used extensively for the past several years is to obtain affidavits or statements from a client’s former co-worker (or preferably a supervisor), family member or long-time friends. What is an affidavit? It is simply a notarized document that essentially is a narrative letter regarding a person’s observations of problems the client has functioning on a daily basis due the symptoms and limitations, with a conclusion that they are unable to work in any occupation as a result. In my opinion it is essential that SSA and a judge have corroborating evidence from those who know a client the best and the affidavit performs that function.

Because I view a client’s credibility as paramount to the case, I want to protect it, develop it and support it from as many different independent sources as possible. The quality of the affidavits or statements and who makes them is what matters rather than having a large volume of them by people who do not know the client well.

I know thoughtful affidavits have a big impact on SSA and judges because I have seen countless judges from all over the country reference them as a reason why they approved my client’s claim. I have also talked with judges after a hearing and they have told me the affidavits provided persuasive support for my client’s allegations regarding their limitations.

It must be noted that it is unlikely an affidavit alone will win a disability case; but along with other corroborating medical records and doctor’s opinions it can be a powerful tool. Use this article as a foundation for developing this important part of your claim.

Tip #1: The Affidavit should be Brief

To avoid lulling weary SSA personnel or a judge to sleep, I believe the affidavit should be no more than two (2) pages in length. Please remember your file will contain several hundreds of pages of records…you want the affidavit to be read and be factored into your claim.

Tip #2: The Affidavit should be on regular paper and be Notarized

The document itself can be on any regular white paper (preferably 8½ x 11 inches), handwritten or typewritten and should be titled “Affidavit.” In addition, it should be notarized because a notary will confirm that the person who purported to draft the affidavit actually signed the same before a public notary. Having the affidavit notarized eliminates any question with regard to authenticity of the document (i.e. you are not trying to pull one over on SSA or a judge!). However, even if you cannot get the affidavit notarized, it still should be submitted.

Best of luck to you and remember to keep fighting for the benefits you deserve!