In my Financial Planning Guide, I included three other planning considerations. One of these was "Document Everything." I mentioned that it is very important because you tend to forget or misplace things as the months and years pass. All of this information will become important as you begin the application processes for Social Security-Disability (SS-D) and short/long-term disability insurance. It will also be useful in justifying the need for mobility equipment (canes, walkers, scooters, wheelchairs, etc.). In addition, if you ever move or have to change doctors, having your medical history in one location is an excellent way to update people on your condition and other health considerations.
The best advice I ever received on this subject was from a doctor at my company who reviewed short and long-term disability applications. He commented that I needed to treat the application process like any other business activity. Keep it professional and take the emotions out of it as much as possible. Understand the process, rules, restrictions and guidelines, and document everything.
- Incorporate all the information mentioned in these two articles into a three-ring binder.
- Have a tab for each section mentioned.
- Update the information regularly.
In Part I of "Document Everything" I reviewed two important spreadsheets, "Fall History" and "Medical Tests History." In today's article we will cover the other information I found to be useful.
"Physician's Statements and Medical Records" is a history of all doctors' visits and reports. Every time you visit your primary care physician or a specialist, ask for a copy of your medical report (the notes he makes during your visit) as well as any letters he writes on your behalf. When first developing your binder, ask your doctor for copies of all previous reports, tests, and correspondence related to Kennedy's Disease or any other health issues. Some doctors will ask to be reimbursed for the copying costs. It is worth the small investment.
"DNA Blood Tests" is a section for a copy or copies of any DNA blood tests for Kennedy's Disease. Also include in this section any other neurological test results indicating some type of neurological issues.
"Current Health and Symptoms" is a place to document all of your current symptoms and health issues (not only those for Kennedy's Disease). This is especially important since we often forget about symptoms if they are not present the day we are filling out an application or profile.
"Family Health History" should document all health issues of other family members. This can be for any type issue, not just neurological. It is important for your doctors to know if diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, etc. runs in the family. It also might help diagnose a health concern that is not directly related to Kennedy's Disease.
"Work History" documents your employment history including addresses, phone numbers, managers' names, position, etc. This will come in handy when filling out SS-D or long-term disability applications.
"Kennedy's Disease Background Info" is a section where articles on Kennedy's Disease are placed. Find good articles on the internet that explain the disease and its symptoms, reference no known treatment or cure, and gives a general prognosis for the progression of the disease. Attempt to find articles that are well written (easily understand by a nonprofessional). I would definitely include the study on the "Natural History of Spinal and Bulbar Muscular Atrophy."
"Disability Process" is where you keep information such as copies of applications for SS-D, long-term disability insurance, etc. Also include addresses, phone numbers, contacts, dates, summary of conversations, approval or denial letters, etc. I have found that quite often Social Security or another agency wants to know when I retired and when I began receiving SS-D and Medicare. Only having to look in one place to find all of this information is quite helpful.
Once completed, this three-ring binder becomes your reference guide for anything related to your health and disability. It is important that you keep the information updated. Every six months or so update your "Current Health and Symptoms" section. Update your fall history whenever one happens. Continue to collect copies of your doctor's reports and test results. Whenever you receive correspondence from the Social Security Administration, or any other company/agency related to your disability or health condition, place it in the binder. Do not wait until you need the information to bring it up to date.
When I applied for Social Security-Disability, I brought my three-ring binder to the interview with the local Social Security representative. Almost any question asked, I could answer or find the answer in the binder. Almost every report she needed copies of, I also had in the binder. This simplified the application process and allowed the representative to complete the forms and submit them almost immediately. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, the approval arrived in six weeks.