May 5, 2017
It’s no secret that the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) application process can be lengthy, as there are hundreds of thousands of open claims nationwide. While we take pride in our job as your Social Security Disability advocate to take as much of the work off of you as possible, it is important for you to know that your involvement with your SSDI claim does not end after you have completed your initial application with our office. To help educate you on a key part of the process, last month we published a blog post covering “What you should know about disability questionnaires” and we will be continuing a series of posts focusing on several types of questionnaires you could receive from the SSA during the application process.
Before we discuss any specific forms, we want to be sure you understand why you might receive questionnaires from Social Security. Once we file your claim and you have returned your signed forms to Social Security, your claim will be assigned to a disability examiner. Your disability examiner is the person who will request your medical records and work on your claim at Social Security, and to help them obtain additional information that they need to make a decision on your claim, he or she may send you questionnaires to complete.
One such questionnaire is called the Function Report, also known as the Activities of Daily Living. The purpose of the Function Report is to paint a picture for your disability examiner of the significant changes you have had to make to your daily activities because of your conditions. When completing this form, it is important to be as specific as possible, and to use examples whenever possible to best explain the changes you have had to make. Keep in mind that what might seem like many slight changes could add up to convincing evidence of your disability. Social Security not only looks to see if you can perform past work, but also to see if you can perform any type of work in the national economy. We also recommend that you avoid using vague terms “a long time” or “very far”, as it’s very easy to misinterpret what these unprecise measurements mean to each person. For example, instead of saying, “I can’t sit for a long time,” a stronger answer would be, “I am unable to sit for more than 15 minutes without changing positions.”
Above all, keep in mind that whatever answers you provide will be reviewed not only by your disability examiner, but also your Administrative Law Judge should your claim go to the hearing level. As such, it is essential to be consistent, detailed and honest when completing questionnaires at any stage in the application process.
This post was written by one of our Client Advocates, Kristen.
Nothing in this post is intended as advice or a suggestion to elect or not elect to claim benefits of any kind, including Social Security benefits, nor is it intended as financial advice in any way. The decision to claim benefits is a personal one that is contingent upon each individual’s unique circumstances.