Categories: Article
      Date: May 16, 2013
     Title: Social Security Disability: How friends and family can help

A Social Security Disability claim can take a long time. Many claimants wait up to two years. It can be a long, lonely process.

Friends and family often ask how they can help their loved one. There are obvious answers, like helping the claimant cope with their physical or mental limitations, or driving them to medical appointments.

But friends and family play an important role in helping Social Security understand the claimant's limitations. After all, doctors see the patient for fifteen minutes every few months. Friends and family see them every day.

Friends and family can capture their observations in letters to Social Security. These letters become part of the claimant's case file, and are carefully considered as part of the record as a whole.

Letters from family and friends should include four things:

1) Who they are and how they know the claimant

2) What that person understands the claimant suffers from

3) A description of the symptoms that they have seen the claimant struggle with

4) How those symptoms affect the claimant's daily activities

Letter writers should avoid emotional pleas or requests to Social Security. Stick to the facts. Review a sample letter below.

Yes, friends and family can make a big difference. All it takes is a letter!



January 27, 2010

To whom it may concern:

My name is Joan Smith and a neighbor of John Jones. I have known John for about six years. We were neighbors and soon became close friends.

For the duration of our friendship I have seen John struggle with several things that seem a direct result of injuries from his car accident four years ago. When I first moved into the neighborhood, John's house and yard was immaculate. He had the most beautiful flower gardens on both sides of his house. The other neighbors all joked that we wished John would hire out as a gardener because no one could make a garden nicer than him.

But since his accident he cannot walk as well. He can't kneel or bend over. He has given up on his flower beds though he mows when he can. It is sad to see him walk because he used to be so healthy looking. Now he struggles even to get to the mailbox at the street. Sometimes I will walk across the street after the mailman comes and take the mail to his door.

He talks about being in constant pain, and how none of the medicines he is taking seem to work. He tells me his doctor has tried a million medicines but he is still always in pain.

Even worse, John is always depressed now. He talks about suicide although says he isn't serious. But he is depressed all the time and says he is on medication for that too. He says he hates even going to the store now because he walks too slowly and feels he is in everyone's way.

Since the accident, his life is completely changed. He used to be so self-sufficient and outgoing, but now everything is different.

I hope this letter helps someone understand what he is going through.


Joan Smith