How to be Credible when Seeking Disability
When making a disability claim, credibility often comes into play. Credibility is important whether you have an evident disability, such as a condition that shows up on x-rays, or an invisible condition such as chronic pain or a mental illness. However, when dealing with these invisible conditions, credibility may play a more significant role.
What are some ways to Show Credibility?
Credibility can be shown in many different ways, but a few include:
- Recognizing both your bad and good days;
- Going to all your recommended treatments;
- Providing context for your condition;
- Being consistent with your information;
- Not embellishing your symptoms; and
- Being careful of what you post on social media.
Recognize Both Your Bad and Your Good Days
One of the common mistakes that individuals make when seeking a disability claim is only addressing their bad days. Everyone has their ups and downs and failing to recognize this in your statements can make it appear as if you are playing up your condition.
When addressing your condition, you may want to address your good days, your average days, and your worst days. It is especially important for you to bring forward this information on your own terms. If it only comes out in response to an opposing lawyer’s questioning, this may diminish your credibility.
One easy way to address your good and bad days is to outline certain tasks that you can or cannot do. For example, if talking about walking up a set of stairs you might say, “On good days, I can walk up an entire flight, on bad days I can’t even take one step, and on an average day I can manage two or three.”
Remember, when dealing with disabilities, often the bad days stick in your mind more and can make it seem like all of your days are bad days. A way to get around this is to journal your daily symptoms. This way, you will not be caught off guard when you only recall being unable to walk up a single stair, and someone points out that you walked up a flight of stairs a month ago.
Go to Your Recommended Treatments
Depending on what your disability is, your treatments can be painful, stressful, and all-around unpleasant. However, going to treatments that have been recommended for you can enhance your credibility. Often, there is a perception that if you do not finish treatment, you no longer need it. On the other side, if you remain in therapy for a long time, your condition is often perceived as more legitimate.
Some common reasons for stopping treatment include:
- The treatments being painful or stressful;
- The recovery process is slow or plateauing; and
- Not having the money or time for treatment.
Painful or Stressful Treatments
If treatment is painful or stressful, you should address this with your treatment provider. They may be able to suggest other treatments or options available, provide recovery tips, and ensure you have the proper tools to reduce pain post-treatment or manage post-treatment stress.
If treatment ultimately remains too painful or stressful for you to complete despite these alternatives, you can ask your treatment provider to include a note of this in your medical files.
It is not uncommon for recovery to plateau during treatment. Before you decide to stop treatment, discuss this with your treatment provider. It is often the case that once you have reached a certain point, recovery seems slow to you, but your medical provider is still noticing important changes.
If your treatment provider agrees that your recovery has plateaued within the bounds of the treatment they can provide to you, they may be able to suggest another provider who will be able to help.
Expensive or Time-Consuming Treatment
If you have no coverage for your treatment or no time to spare to complete treatment, you may find yourself not wanting to finish your recommended therapy session. There is not always a solution to this problem, but a competent lawyer often can help open treatment avenues that you might not be aware of.
Ultimately, however, if you must make the difficult decision to stop treatment for financial reasons or lack of time, you should address this with your treatment provider so it can be noted in your record.
Provide Context for Your Condition
One of the most impactful ways to make yourself more credible is to provide context for your condition, especially if you have an invisible condition such as chronic pain.
Context can include:
- Addressing your activities limited by your condition and what you do to deal with this;
- Things that aggravate your condition as well as things that help alleviate your symptoms;
- Medications you have used to treat your condition and their effectiveness;
- Treatments you have received to treat your condition and their effectiveness;
- How your condition affects your ability to perform specific duties at work and duties that you are still able to do;
- The location, duration, and frequency of your symptoms; and
- Addressing the tasks and activities that you can still do despite your condition.
Be Consistent with the Information You Provide
Try to ensure that you always report the same information about your even if it is to two different organizations. If you report something for Canada Pension Plan benefits, you want to report the same for long-term providers.
Inconsistencies can result when you start guessing treatment dates or the length of time specific symptoms have been bothering you. To be safe, you may want to record your symptoms in a journal to ensure you are always reporting the correct information. If certain symptoms have resolved and others have gotten worse, address those too.
Do Not Embellish Your Symptoms
It is easy to get stuck in a negative mindset or remember your symptoms as more severe or frequent than they actually were. Be careful that when you are reporting your symptoms that you are not overlooking your average days to focus only on your worst. Often, a second perspective can be helpful in preventing you from embellishing.
Try to ground your symptoms by addressing them on a scale from one to ten or addressing the limitations that your symptoms cause rather than using arbitrary words such as “severe” or “extreme,” which can mean different things to different people.
For example, instead of saying, “I suffer from severe foot pain,” you might want to say, “I suffer from foot pain which gets worse when I put weight on it—when I do, the pain is a 5 out of 10.”
Be Careful of What You Post on Social Media
You might not be aware of it, but once you start a disability claim, your insurance company can investigate you. One of the ways they do this is through searching your social media.
Once you have started your claim, you should be mindful of what you are posting on social media, even if your settings are set to private. Be careful of posting about activities you have done that you think may impact for claim. For example, if you are claiming a condition that prevents you from walking up a few stairs on a bad day, try not to post pictures of you, even if it is on a good day, walking up a flight of stairs.
If you have already posted something on social media that you think may impact your claim, try not to delete it. If you delete the post, this gives the impression that you have something to hide. Instead, be upfront about it. If you posted a picture of you walking up stairs, be sure to mention that on good days you can walk up stairs, but that this is not often the case.
What if I’m Still Worried about being Credible?
If you are still worried about being credible when seeking disability, it is advisable to get a second opinion. Friends and family can be helpful for checking some of your facts with. If you require further help, a lawyer may be of service in helping you sort through your claim.
How Can NOVA Injury Help?
At NOVA Injury Law we will act on your behalf to advocate for you in your disability claim.
The whole idea behind a disability claim is to ensure you are provided compensation for your disability – and this is a wide-ranging task with unique facts in each case. To learn more about NOVA Injury Law’s approach to protecting disability claims, contact us now to book your free Case Review. During the free Case Review process, we will give you our honest opinion about your case, how much your disability claim might be worth, and what you should consider as your next steps.
If you are in need of legal advice or representation for your disability claim in Halifax, Nova Scotia, or anywhere in Atlantic Canada, our personal injury lawyers are here to help. Contact us today and tell us more about your claim – we are here to help!