A few years ago, I was in a pretty serious car accident. During the aftermath, I became really familiar with a lot of different types of lawyers. I worked with personal injury lawyers, insurance lawyers, and many others. Perhaps the most important, though, was the estate planning lawyer. I was really young, and neither my wife or I had thought about starting a will. But the accident kind of scared us into it. What would happen if one of us were to die? Even when still in the hospital, I was working with the lawyer to draw up a will. Now, I have some peace and security about what the future will be like if something should happen to me. And I have a lot of experience working with various types of lawyers! The accident was kind of a blessing in disguise in that way.
Can a letter help you win your Social Security disability claim? Possibly. How much weight the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) gives a letter in support of your disability claim depends a lot on whom the letter is from, what it has to say, and how it's written. This is what you need to know.
Ask The Right People
The only people that the ALJ is going to be interested in hearing from are those who can contribute to the overall picture that the ALJ has of your situation through first-hand information.
Consider asking a former boss or co-worker who has first-hand knowledge of how your disability affected you on the job. He or she can detail the specific demands of your job and attest to the fact that you weren't able to do the work without help, needed extra time, or just had to be let go.
If a friend, family member, or neighbor assists you on a regular basis doing things like shopping, cleaning, taking care of the lawn, doing laundry, or grocery shopping, ask that person to write a letter stating what he or she does, how often he or she does it, and why.
When the ALJ asks you about how you manage to get groceries, stay fed, and keep your house in order, it's helpful to have evidence on hand that supports your statements. It adds to your credibility as a witness, and might sway an ALJ who is wavering about whether or not to approve your claim.
Important Things To Remember
When someone is writing a letter to the ALJ on your behalf, he or she will likely have questions about how to write the letter and what to include. Here are some important guidelines:
Outside Observations Are Important
Your attorney may also find personal letters like this to be a rich source of detailed information that may help you in other ways.
People with disabilities often develop ways to cope and survive over time, and you may have become so used to your condition that you no longer notice just how hard your struggle really is. Outside observations can often reveal things about your disability that might otherwise go unmentioned, but could significantly impact your case.
For example, your caregiver may have observed that you've become socially withdrawn due to pain and fatigue. It may have happened so gradually that you don't even think about it anymore and have never mentioned it to your social security disability claims lawyer. However, that's an important detail that could improve your chances of being approved for disability.
Personal letters can help you win your case under certain circumstances. When you appear before the ALJ, he or she will likely have questions about how you survive on a day-to-day basis. Letters that document your limitations, and provide answers about how you manage to cope, can prove invaluable.Share
6 January 2015