Take My Word For It. No, Really.
Feb. 3, 2017
When I meet with a new client in my office, I always send them home with a blank calendar. I ask them to keep track of all of their medical appointments and as time passes to keep me updated by mailing in their completed calendars. Additionally, for most clients, I ask that they use their calendars to track their most extreme symptoms, and to share this information with their doctors at every visit. I tell them, “These calendars could be very important to your case, take my word for it!”
Most clients generally keep up with their “calendar homework,” some better than others, and the information that they provide helps me to understand their conditions and to keep the Administration updated as to the client’s medical care. For those clients who also share the calendars with their physicians, it helps their physicians to provide the appropriate aggressiveness of treatment and to properly document their medical files with the severity and frequency of symptoms.
Recently, one of my clients won her case because she trusted my advice and worked diligently on her calendar homework. Here’s her story.
This client came to me in September 2014 to file a brand new benefit application based on a variety of physical and mental symptoms and a history of surgeries and other treatments. Unfortunately, she treated primarily in a clinic setting, where provider turnover can be high and where office notes don’t always thoroughly document the findings of physical exams or conversations that occur between provider and patient.
After carefully inquiring about my client’s various symptoms and conditions, I determined that one of her most potentially disabling symptoms was her need to run to the restroom at frequent and unpredictable intervals. After all, in order to perform any full time job, a worker must actually spend most of her time, you know, working. For individuals who suffer from a frequent and unpredictable symptom that is likely to take them away from their work, this can be the most straightforward way of establishing disability. Accordingly, I asked her to keep track of all of her visits to the restroom.
So over the past two and a half years, my client did a wonderful job keeping me updated about all of her doctors’ appointments, changes of medication, and medical procedures. And she religiously tracked every single restroom visit, sometimes ten to fifteen per day, delivering to me a huge stack of completed calendars, which we submitted to the judge who heard her case.
My client had attempted to share these calendars with her GI specialists over the years, but none of her doctors had ever looked at them. Accordingly, her medical record contained only a sparse accounting of her most severe symptoms. This was not helpful to her case.
But guess what? The judge reviewed the calendars and announced at the hearing that, based on the frequency of my client’s trips to the restroom, she had won her case. All we had to do was to amend her onset date of disability to coincide with the date on which she started keeping track of her restroom visits. I feel confident that had my client not kept such diligent records at my request, the outcome of her case would have been very different. I am so grateful that she took my word for it!