How to Write a Good Disability Claim

According to, in 2007 the Social Security Administration (SSA) denied 65.4 percent of disability claims that were initially filed and 87.3 percent of denied claims that were appealed for reconsideration. The key to writing a good disability claim is gathering the right amount of data and meeting the SSA’s strict definition of disability. According to the SSA, you are disabled if you suffer from an injury or condition expected to last at least 12 months or result in death and one that completely prevents you from being gainfully employed.

Obtain your medical records. The Social Security Administration should obtain any records not in your possession, but the more records you can obtain in advance will help you better prepare your claim. In addition to your medical records, keep copies of any bills or correspondence sent to you by physicians and medical facilities regarding your disability or treatment. Much of the determination will be based off of these medical facts; the more facts you have, the more valid your disability claim will be.

Keep journals documenting your pain, treatment, medication and doctor appointments. Use this information to supplement the medical facts. For instance, if your physician prescribed you with a pain killer to relieve symptoms associated with your condition, describe pain before and after the medication and explain how the medication affects you.

Gather documents related to your work and wages. These include the names and addresses of your past employers from the last 15 years, a description of what you did for each employer, how much you were paid and the reason for leaving the job. Supplement this material with official documents such as W-2s and income tax returns.

Write your disability claim using the disability report or using the report as a template. Armed with the necessary information, you can write a good disability claim simply by following the format the agency is going to use when making its determination. Obtain this form at a local Social Security office or from the SSA's website (see Resources).


  • Do not embellish facts or provide dishonest answers to questions simply because you want to “win” your claim. Aside from the obvious reasons of fraud and criminal conduct, disability claims are heavily investigated and engaging in dishonest conduct, however minimal, may be detrimental to your claim.