Our firm has been helping claimants receive Social Security Disability benefits for over 25 years. In our experience, there are details that can help or hurt you when completing paperwork during the process. Here are some guidelines for you to use when answering questions contained in a Social Security Function report.
Guideline 1: Tell the truth
We tell our clients to tell the truth to the Social Security(SS) office. What we mean by this is take the time and pay attention to the question so you can understand what information the SS office is trying to find out. This is their one-minute look at what is going on with you.
Question: Do you take care of anyone else such as a wife/husband, children, grandchildren, parents, friend, other?
- Answer: We had a client answer yes to this question. “Yes, I take care of my grandmother.”
Question: Who are you taking care of?
- Answer: My grandmother
Question: Where does your grandmother live?
- Answer: California
Question: How do you take care of your grandmother in California if you live in Illinois?
- Answer: I pay for her nursing home care out of a trust.
Social Security assumes that when you take care of somebody you are doing that person’s cooking, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping and other daily activities. In this case, the client gave the wrong answer.
Another thing to note is that if you have children make sure you mention if your children help you. If your children older note if they help you more than you help them.
Example: Do you prepare meals? Yes
Guideline 2: Put the words “on a bad day” in front of each question
Question: Do you prepare meals?
- Answer: the answer should not just be yes. Be detailed about your answer.
- Example Answer: On a bad day this client lays in bed and her family brings her food. On a good day, she can cook in a microwave a meal for her family.
If you were to just state that you can cook in a microwave for your family the SS office will assume that you can cook in a microwave for your family every day.
Guideline 3: Take each question seriously even if it seems stupid or embarrassing to you
The wrong answer is none. Answer all of these questions.
Questions on Personal Care
For Dress, Example Answers:
- I need help with zippers and buttons because I have no feeling in my fingers or
- I get dressed very slowly because of the pain or
- I can’t put a pull on shirt on because I can’t lift my arm over my head or
- I need to take a break in the middle for 10 minutes because of the pain or
- I need help getting my shoes and socks on because I can’t bend over
For Bathing, Example Answer:
- When I shower I use a shower chair because I can’t get in and out of the bathtub, and I can’t bend over to wash because of my back pain.
Care for hair, Example Answer:
- I had my hair cut short because I can’t use a blow dryer because it hurts my back or
- I can’t stand long enough to blow dry my hair, or
- I can’t lift my arm up that high or
- The hair dryer is too heavy
Shaving, Example Answer:
- I have problems holding the razor because my hands go numb
Feeding myself, Example Answer:
- My spouse cuts my food or
- I don’t eat food that needs to be cut up because cutting food hurts my hands because of my carpal tunnel syndrome.
Use the toilet, Example Answer:
- I added a riser, or
- It takes me 20 minutes each time
Other Personal Care Example Answers:
- I have to take my pain medicine and lay in bed for 30 minutes in the morning until the medicine works
Guideline 4: Try to figure out how the SS office can relate your answer to the question to your disability or if they can turn your answer into a job.
If you say, “I take my dog for a walk” could you be a dog walker?
If you say, “I do the family dishes” could you be a dishwasher?
Guideline 5: Relate your functional limitation to the answer
Guideline 6: Keep your answer short- you don’t need more space than is provided. Remember, loose links sink ships, in other words, the more you say the more the Social Security Administration(SSA) can relate what you say to a job.
Question: How do your illnesses, injuries, or conditions limit your ability to work?
- Answer: My MS causes me to forget things. I have lost control of my bladder so I have to go the bathroom all the time and change the pad.
- Answer: My back-pain limits me from lifting more than 5 pounds, and I can’t stand for more than 5 minutes so I couldn’t walk to my workstation.
- Answer: I can’t work a full day because my Crohn’s Disease causes me to go to the bathroom for 10 to 30 minutes 4 to 10 times per day
Guideline 7: Use numbers when possible
- I can only lift 5 pounds, or
- I go to the bathroom 4-10 times per day
Guideline 8: Tell your doctors the same things that you are writing in these answers, especially the numbers. The SSA Social is looking to see that what is in your doctor’s records matches what you tell them in these questionnaires.
Guideline 9: Don’t volunteer anything especially any activities
Guideline 10: Have a third party read what your answers to make sure that your answers don’t suggest more tasks than you can perform in a work setting. Also, the third party might suggest functional limitations that you are not aware of.
We hope these guidelines have been helpful. If you or anyone you know is in the process of filing for SSD benefits or is considering filing for SSD benefits, we would appreciate your referral. We can be reached directly by phone at #800-419-7606.