Bolstering Social Security Applications with Witness Letters

Published on December 15th, 2017

Applications for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) assistance should generally be partnered with witness letters to help the process proceed faster and show the severity of the condition. Often these statements can also be used as evidence for the applicant to meet requirements to receive benefits.

Witness Letters

What is a Witness Letter

Witness letters are statements from friends, family, coworkers, or other people that have known a claimant over a long period. The statements relate to the condition in question for the application, and they highlight how long and in what ways the condition has been affecting the claimant. Some of the things that are helpful for a witness to include in the letter are:

– Descriptions of activities the claimant has difficulty performing or can no longer perform due to the condition

– Any moments of focus, concentration or memory loss that has been noticeable

– The time frame for how long the witness has known the claimant

– The relationship between the applicant and the witness

– Any changes to the disability that the witness has noticed, whether it appears to be worsening or if it’s getting better

– If the applicant has noticeably high levels of fatigue requiring rest periods throughout the day

– Notable interactions with other people

The critical thing when it comes to witness statements is for the witness to state report they have observed. Repeating doctor orders or what the claimant has said to them isn’t helpful, stating clearly what they saw the disability impact is what adds to the applicant’s claims.

Who Should Write A Letter

Being selective in who writes letters on a claimants behalf before a disability hearing can be as important as what the letter says. Quality is more important than quantity when it comes to adding support. The people asked to write on behalf of a claimant should be those that have the most first-hand knowledge about the condition. Spouses, family, caregivers and friends that assist the claimant in their day to day life with the things the disability prevents them from doing can provide the best information. Co-workers that have witnessed issues the claimant is having at work are also a strong resource. It doesn’t benefit the applicant to have letters from everyone they know, it matters to have the best support showing the claimant’s difficulties with everyday life.

Weight of a Written Statement

If the time comes to have a disability hearing then having written statements is more beneficial than bringing along a witness in person. When an application is being judged, it’s easier to add a letter to the record than to take the time to ask questions of individuals. The judge can look over the letters when the information is submitted, and it can be more concise than a spoken recollection. The weight given to a letter during the decision process can be considerably more beneficial than other types of testimony.

A Record of Events

Another benefit of witnesses writing letters for an applicant is that they can help identify the onset of the disability. If the witness was aware of issues before the applicant received a medical diagnosis or treatment having dates and times included with their statements regarding specific events can show that the disability was having an impact before the claimant sought professional help. In the statements, including dates can highlight for the judge when the date of onset occurred.

The best way to be sure the any application or disability hearing goes well is to seek out legal advice from an attorney that is trusted. They can help clarify everything that you need, and ensure you are including the best witness letters possible for your claim.

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