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Tuesday, September 2, 2008


While building your disability case, it is often helpful to have input from friends, co-workers, or relatives. These “buddy letters” help to paint a picture of your life before and after the onset of your disability and can be submitted to the insurance company or the Social Security Administration. You can give the following guidelines to whomever is writing the letter on your behalf.

While writing your buddy letter, be sure to follow the guidelines provided below. These guidelines were designed to help you write the most effective letter. When possible, describe concrete examples of experiences which are pertinent to your friend/relative's disability. Once you have completed your letter, his/her attorney should review the information
  • Talk only about things you have witnessed.
  • Do not rely on something your friend/relative may have said as material for your letter.
  • Describe your relationship with your friend/relative. Include activities that your friend/relative was able to do prior to the disability, and how he/she is limited in those activities presently – Going to the park, driving a car, playing any kind of sports, or participating in hobbies. If he/she can no longer do such an activity, say so.
  • Explain any lifestyle changes that you have seen in your friend/relative since the disability – Has their personal hygiene changed, are they wearing different clothing to accommodate for the disability, has their overall appearance changed at all?
  • Talk about his/her ability to socialize – are their conversation skills affected by the disability, can they remember words, does their disability cause them to be easily irritable when dealing with other people?
  • Describe any changes to his/her organization since the disability – Are their personal belongings still kept in order, can he/she keep track of obligations such as paying bills, meeting with people, or doctors appointments?
  • Describe any changes in routine activities – Can he/she still go grocery shopping, complete household chores, care for pets?
  • While completing this letter be as specific as possible. Instead of saying, “his/her head hurt,” say, for example, “she/he was wincing in pain because of a headache, she had to take 2 Advil and rest on the coach for 2 hours.”
  • While writing this letter, try not to exaggerate in an effort to help your friend/relative. It has to be a truthful account of your experiences with him/her.
  • Make sure to cite to particular examples throughout the letter. If he/she used to participate in a hobby, describe that hobby, how he/she participated, and how he/she is no longer able to participate. Giving dates of incidents and lengths of time are also helpful. If it took him/her 45 minutes to do an activity that normally would take 15 minutes, include that in your letter.
  • Do not give a medical opinion. If you accompanied your friend/relative to the doctor, you can describe the events, however, do not say, “he/she is no longer able to work.”
  • Stay within the bounds of your personal knowledge and experience with your friend/relative.
REMEMBER: To write an effective buddy letter, be specific with examples of what you have personally witnessed and do not rely on what you have heard from other people. Your letter does not need to be long to be helpful, but it MUST be truthful.

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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