Medical Narratives and Impairment Questionnaires
Whether applying for Social Security disability benefits initially or appealing a case at the hearing level, your greatest chances at successfully being granted SSDI or SSI benefits relies heavily upon proper medical documentation. To that end, that means you need your treating sources (disability doctors) to complete medical narratives and impairment questionnaires that support your disability claim. A narrative report should include, at a bare minimum, the patient’s relevant medical history, the diagnosis of the patient’s medical condition, the medical basis for this diagnosis, treatment prescribed, frequency of visits, medication prescribed and the effects of the same, limitations on the patient’s activities, and the prognosis for recovery (if any), and whether the condition will exceed 12 months in duration. Impairment questionnaires are a bit trickier and should be specific to the physical or mental impairment in question. For example, a typical psychiatric/psychological impairment questionnaire will include the date of first treatment, frequency of treatment, date of most recent exam, diagnosis, DSM-IV multiaxial evaluation, prognosis, specific clinical findings broken down by symptoms, laboratory and diagnostic test results, frequency and severity of clinical findings and symptoms, functional limitations consistent with the impairments described, a rating scale of the ability to sustain activity over a normal workday and workweek, understanding and memory, concentration and persistence, social interactions, adaptation, awareness, medications prescribed including dosages, whether the patient can tolerate work stress, and comments regarding good and bad days. Your disability lawyer should have these documents at their disposal and carefully screen the same once completed before submission with your original application for disability benefits or to an ALJ at a hearing to overturn a denial of benefits. These principles are equally important for those applying for long-term disability insurance benefits.