When you apply for social security disability, your function report (or activities of daily living questionnaire) is one of the most important forms you will fill out. It can make or break your case. It is essential to fill it out carefully to maximize the possibility of getting your disability claim approved. Follow these suggestions and you will have a case winning report.
What to Expect on a Function Report
The purpose of a function report is to help the administrative law judge (ALJ) understand your daily activities, what your limitations are, and how things have changed because of your disability. There are several questions on the form that require you to describe what you do throughout the day. These include questions about:
- how often and what you cook and how long it takes
- your ability to care for yourself including bathing, dressing, and eating
- what hobbies you have and how often you do them
- if you spend time with others and what you do during this time
- if you leave your home regularly and what you do during this time
- if you care for other people or pets
- activities that you are no longer able to do
5 Guidelines for Filling out Your Report
If you follow these guidelines, you will have a thorough function report that will help you win your case.
1. Take Your Time - Give yourself plenty of time to complete this task. This form is very important to your claim. If you hurry through it, you will only hurt yourself. Think through your responses and word them carefully.
Be thorough in reviewing your day. List all of the activities that you do regularly.
2. Provide Details - It's the details that will give the ALJ a clear picture of your day. Consider how your activities are affected by your impairment. Do you have a difficult time buttoning your clothing, reaching up to cabinets to get out dishes, or lifting things? When describing your daily activities, give details about how they are done.
Never say that you spend time doing nothing. What you likely mean is that you can no longer function normally and spend most of your time doing things like resting on your bed or watching television. These activities are just as important to list as any other. Make sure to include your reasons for the time you spend doing these things (e.g. I am too tired to be active or it hurts to stand for more than a few minutes).
3. Be Accurate and Honest - During your hearing, the ALJ will compare what you say to what you wrote on your function report. If you have a conflict between your report and your testimony, the judge will assume you have exaggerated or been dishonest. The chances of your claim being denied will go up significantly. Avoid this problem by giving an accurate description of your daily activities.
4. Describe the Changes You've Had to Make - One of the things that will be most helpful to your case is for the judge to see how the disability has altered your way of living. Make sure you include information about how your daily activities have changed. Do you now require help from other people? Have you had to purchase dressing aids? Have you had to have modifications made to your home? Have you changed the way you do things (e.g. microwaving your meals or eating prepared foods instead of cooking)? Are there things you are no longer able to do? Share these facts in your report.
5. Review Your Report - Take time to read over your report before submitting it to the Social Security Administration. While reading, ask yourself these questions:
- Is this an accurate portrayal of my daily activities?
- Have I included enough detail about the way these activities are performed?
- Have I left out anything that should be included?
It might be helpful to have a family member or friend or professional from a place like Law Offices Of Russell J. Goldsmith go over it with you as well.
With your disability claim at stake, you want to make sure you are doing everything you can to get approval. By taking the time to fill out a detailed and honest report you improve your chances of making this happen.