Beginning with the application, Social Security is going to have you fill out many forms. Accuracy can be important. If you are unsure, about anything, you would need to specify that. For example, you need to be very accurate about the kind of work you have done for the 15 years prior to the time you became disabled. The date you become disabled is fluid and is not always easy to determine. For example, you may be laid off and then apply for disability. That date is probably not going to be accurate because you probably could still work after you got laid off. You should be accurate about the dates you did the work or, in the alternative, specify you are unsure. You will need to state the names and addresses of all treating physicians and hospitals from at least the time he became disabled. There may be reason to obtain records prior to the time you became disabled. As Social Security pays for the records, it is best to put down too many treating physicians and hospitals as opposed to too few. There’s probably little reason to go beyond five years prior to the time you became disabled.

The other forms that are common are those that ask what you do throughout the day and what kind of pain you are in. I would recommend that you complete the answers on a separate page and attach it to the questions. I would number the answers so they can connect them to the question. I would not be too wordy. That is to say, you need to explain what goes on but not go on forever. You do need to be accurate. If you are unsure, you need to say that you are unsure or do not know the answer. You should never embellish. For example, do not say you use a cane every day if you only use it for long walks. Do not take the cane to an examination unless you use a cane on a regular basis or because it will entail a long walk to the examination.

The bottom line of all is that it pays to be accurate, but it pays to know when you don’t know. As someone notorious recently said, “there are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.”

 So if you are unsure, say you are unsure.