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Information about all aspects of finances affected by a serious health condition. Includes income sources such as work, investments, and private and government disability programs, and expenses such as medical bills, and how to deal with financial problems.
Information about all aspects of health care from choosing a doctor and treatment, staying safe in a hospital, to end of life care. Includes how to obtain, choose and maximize health insurance policies.
Answers to your practical questions such as how to travel safely despite your health condition, how to avoid getting infected by a pet, and what to say or not say to an insurance company.

What A Health Journal Should Contain


A health diary should be kept on a "contemporaneous" basis -- made at or near the time the events occur. A contemporaneous diary has much more weight than one created after the fact. It also helps you remember events that happened so you can accurately summarize them.

In addition to Social Security Disability, the diary is also useful to maximize your time with your doctor (see Preparing For Appointments With A Doctor) as well as for protections under such laws as Americans With Disabilities Act.

Your Diary should contain information  in detail about:

Doctor's Appointments

The doctor will submit a summary of the visit to Social Security. Your diary becomes a method of assuring that Social Security receives an accurate summary of each visit in case there is some problem with the doctor's records. Keep in mind that medical evidence about your condition is critical to obtaining SSDI.

For each appointment, include:

  • The doctor's name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Date of the appointment
  • Why you went, and
  • What went on during the appointment -- including any treatments or prescriptions you received in the office or to take with you.


Keep a record of all the medications you take. It is important to include all medications for every condition that impairs you now, or did impair you. The drug may give Social Security an indication of the severity of your condition. Include:

  • Prescribing physician
  • Dosage
  • Frequency
  • Dates medications are started -- and stopped
  • Changes in your physical condition, including side effects

For a form to make it easy to keep track of this information, see List Of Medications.

Prescribed Treatments

Since Social Security will not find you to be disabled if you don't follow prescribed treatments without a good reason, include all treatments:

  • What was prescribed
  • What doctor or facility gave you the treatment
  • Dates
  • Changes as a result of the treatments -- including "no change"

Include everything your doctor told you to do (such as use a heating pad) and not o, even if no written prescription is involved.


Survivorship A to Z provides a Symptoms Diary to help you keep track of your symptoms. Pushing a button will convert the information into a graph so people can see your symptoms quickly. There is also room for comments.

If you choose to keep your own symptoms diary, include the following:

  • Note the days you do not feel well, with a description of your symptoms.
  • If the symptoms are subjective, like pain, create a scale of 1 -- 10 and note the number in your diary. Be as specific as possible so other people can understand. For example, with pain:
    • Where is the pain?
    • For how long?
    • Is it sharp, dull, achy, or some other description?
    • What causes it? (for example, standing or bending)
    • What activities or drugs, if anything, relieves the pain?
    • What physical or mental limitations are associated with the pain?

Keep in mind that as part of its evaluation of your symptoms, Social Security and any other disability reviewer will evaluate the extent to which the contents of your diary are consistent with medical signs, laboratory findings, and other evidence.

Effect On Work And Daily Activities

Note the days you cannot work either all or part of a day, or when you cannot carry you a particular duty, or that symptoms interfere with daily activities.

As you think about the effect of your symptoms on your ability to work, and your daily life, review the list of daily activities and list of work activities to see if they help jog your thought process. Many times we change the way we do things because of a symptom that we get so used to that we don't realize without some prodding that there has been a change.

NOTE: Also consider:

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