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Monday, August 4, 2008

DISABILITY BENEFIT TIP OF THE WEEK: Filling out Forms

During the initial application process and throughout the life of your claim, your insurance company, the Social Security Administration, and even the Veteran's Administration may require you to fill out various forms. One of the most common forms they will request from you is an Activities of Daily Living form. This type of form has various names, including things like "Claimant Statement," but the common elements are questions about what you can and can't do (i.e., your limitations). Whatever it is called, these kinds of forms are VERY important. Here are some tips for filling them out:

- Be thorough in your responses. Do not give one word answers. For example, if the forms asks, "Do you need help preparing meals?" Do not write simply write "yes." Tell them why you need help. For example: "It hurts to stand long enough to make a meal, so my wife usually prepares them for me."

- Be specific. Do not say, "I cannot sit for a long time." Instead, say something like, "When I sit for more than 20 minutes, my lower back starts to really hurt and I have to stand up and move around." Quantify your answers. "A long time" means different things to different people.

- Give examples of ways your disability has limited your activities. For example, "I only take a shower if I know somebody else is home, because I am afraid I will lose consciousness and fall and no one will be there to help me," or "I went to the grocery store last week but could not finish my shopping because my legs started to hurt too much to continue."

- Avoid absolute statements unless they are always true. Do not say something like, "I cannot sit for more than 20 minutes." Instead say, "It usually hurts when I sit for more than 20 minutes." Insurance companies often get surveillance footage of people making claims. If an investigator gets footage of you driving for 30 minutes without interruption and they have your written statement saying that you cannot sit for more than 20 minutes, they will deny your claim because they think you are lying. Another example might be if you say that you cannot bend at the waist, they might catch you leaning over to check your mailbox.

- List all of your limitations. Most forms do not include a section to list your limitations that are not physical. If you experience fatigue, difficulty concentrating, memory problems and/or irritability, etc., be sure to list those limitations.

-Do not be afraid to attach additional paper if the space provided for your answers is not sufficient.

In general, remember that you are trying to give the person that is deciding your claim a complete picture of your condition. Do not limit your answers simply because there is not much space provided for them. Always be truthful and thorough and it will help build your case from the very beginning.

Copyright (c) 2008 by John V. Tucker and Tucker & Ludin, P.A. All rights reserved. Any content borrowed or referenced from another source is referenced by citation to the original source as noted in the text above.

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