Papercut and colored pencil art by Sheryl Aronson X 5

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Document, Document, Part 1- Disability

I read recently on an occupational therapy (OT) forum about an OT clinic where they say that if it isn't documented, it didn't happen. In other words, write complete and accurate notes of all therapy sessions, phone calls, etc. Documentation is so important in so many aspects of our lives.In my opinion, I think we overdo it sometimes, with people taking pictures and videos with their phones of absolutely anything and everything. On the other hand, sometimes we don't document when we should. I have a couple of specifics in mind.
Many of us with chronic illness and pain may at some point want to or need to file for disability. If so, having documentation is critical. We have no control over the documentation of our various doctors.We can tell our docs how we are functioning each time we see them, and ask that this info be included in our medical record. Hopefully, they are keeping good records, but this isn't always the case. We can ask for copies of our medical records. You have a right to see them, though some places charge a 'processing' fee.
More important than medical records are your own records. Keep a journal, documenting sleep, medications, pain levels, how your pain and/or illness affect your functioning, what it prevents you from doing, what you can and cannot do. Keep track of all your doctors' appointments, all the meds you try, and how they work for you. If you are still working, document any difficulties at work, accommodations you need, number of hours you are able to work, how you feel/ how you function at the end of a day of work. Document how your social life is affected, and anything else that you think is relevant to your functioning ability.
Also, don't be a hero. Don't tell family and friends you are fine when you aren't. I know a lot of people don't like talking about their issues, but if you believe you should get on disability, there has to be evidence that you are disabled. Don't be a complainer, but let people know when you are hurting, when/what things are difficult for you. Ask for help when needed.
Having good documentation and clear evidence that you are disabled does not guarantee that you  will get approved for disability on your first application, but t makes it much more likely.
My next post will be about another situation where documentation is very helpful.

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