Disability claim forms can be easy to complete as long as you know what to include in those forms.
It’s not uncommon for people to be either very confused about these forms and freeze. Or think that they are a “piece of cake” to complete and make a huge mistake.
Easy to Complete?
If you think these disability claim forms are easy to complete you are not exactly wrong. The questions, on a first impression, are pretty clear cut.
Take for example the “Adult Function Report” form (←click on the link).
This is one of the forms Social Security will send you during the pendency of your case. Its purpose is to inquire about your daily activities so the “decision maker” can evaluate how “functional” you are on your day-to-day activities.
While your doctor can tell us how sick you are, he is not there with you all day long and he could not tell in the medical records how functional you are at home.
That’s why this form was created (among others).
The questions on this form “appear” very simple. But this form was cleverly devised to “trip” you up.
Take for example question 6 on the Function Report: It says, “Describe what you do from the time you wake up until going to bed“. Looks pretty easy to answer, right?
Let’s answer that question the “easy” way. Then let’s answer it in the “correct” way so you can see the difference:
“When I get up I go to the bathroom, brush my teeth, take my medications and I go to the kitchen to eat breakfast. After, breakfast, I take the kids to school. When I come back I watch tv for a while. Then I check my emails, watch some more TV and then I take a nap. After my nap, I watch some more TV. Sometimes I wash the dishes or fold the laundry. I go pick up the kids and check on their homework. After that, I try to make dinner and after dinner, I watch some TV with the kids and go to bed.”
What’s wrong with this answer?
The first thing I want you to understand is that I am not asking you to lie on your forms. That’s the last thing you want to do.
The second thing you need to keep in mind when answering those type of questions is that “certain activities you do every day can be activities a person does on a job“
With those two things in mind, you need to understand one thing: Your answers on these forms “can and will be used against you“ when it’s time to decide your case.
So let’s go through our “easy answer”
Let’s check what activities could translate into work and that the “decision maker” can say you are able to do.
- Breakfast: How long does it take you to cook breakfast? Is it just a cup of coffee or milk, or do you do the whole “American” breakfast with eggs, sausage, and all the fixings?
If you are not clear about that information, the court can say that based on your “breakfast” answer you can work at a restaurant cooking meals. Or that you have enough ability to stand up for a good while. This means you can take a job that allows you to sit and stand whenever you want to.
Remember my post about receiving a denial letter where I talk about the possibility that you could actually do another job but not your old job? This is one of those possible situations. Like the truck driver example on that post, who could not drive anymore but could do something else.
- Taking the kids to school: Sure, their school may be just down the street, but you need to tell the “decision maker” how long it takes you to get to the school (driving, walking). You need to tell them how bad you feel after doing that (or if you are able to do that every day). Or they can interpret those activities to mean your pain is not so bad. Or that you are able to move around more than you are telling them.
The driving also indicates that you have no difficulty paying attention to the road. Or that your “neck” pain is not so bad when you are telling them you can’t turn your neck.
Watching TV: This one “trips up” a lot of people!
This post contains affiliate links. I may make a commission from any purchases you make through these links without any extra cost to you. This is how I make sure this blog is available to help you in your claim journey
Most people think that if you are only able to watch TV and nothing else, that means things are bad for you.
The decision maker, on the other hand, thinks that “if you are able to sit for a long time watching TV, that means you could get a job as a “Monitor” for example.
A Monitor job requires you to do exactly what you do when watching TV. All you do is sit or stand all day in front of a monitor and just watch what’s going on and report to security. That’s it!
Also, an answer that says “I sit and watch TV all day” means that you could also get a job that you can sit all day. You could be a receptionist, customer service, or any job that requires you to sit all day. At least, that’s what the decision maker is thinking.
- Checking emails: Same as the TV answer. The decision maker may think you can do a secretarial job or something in front of a computer. It also indicates that you can focus on a task for a time.
- Laundry and dishes: It all comes back to your ability to move around. Or lift things, bend, stand for a while and focus on an activity.
- Checking homework: translates into jobs that require attention, concentration, and ability to supervise.
I know what you’re thinking: “Are you saying that because I do some of these activities I can’t win my case?”
What I’m saying is you need to watch how you are answering those questions.
You can’t leave any “room” for interpretation that your activities can be done “full-time“!
Let’s answer question 6. above the “correct way” so you see what I mean:
To recap, the question was “Describe what you do from the time you wake up until going to bed“.
Here it goes:
“It takes me at least 2 hours after waking up to get out of bed. I am completely stiff in the morning and exhausted. I was awake half the night with pain. I go to the bathroom and it takes at least 30 minutes to brush my teeth. I have to take breaks because of my back (or insert difficulty here).
When I’m done with the bathroom, I try to eat something for breakfast if it’s ready. Other times, all I can make is instant coffee. Taking the milk out the fridge is too heavy for me to have cereal. On a good day, I try to drive the kids to school but my husband takes them. Or the kids walk to school.
After breakfast, I take my medications. Then I take a break to rest until the medications “kick in”. I usually turn on the TV for noise but I’m mostly lying down with my eyes closed.
When I feel a little more rested, I try to wash the dishes but I can only wash a couple of plates and I have to sit down or lie down again. For lunch, I eat leftovers or a sandwich. Then I need at least a two-hour nap because my medication “knocks me out”. When the kids arrive from school I ask if they have homework. They mostly do it themselves. My husband (or the kids) prepare dinner and after dinner, I go to bed exhausted“.
Notice the difference from the “easy” answer and the “correct” answer?
The secret is to answer these questions properly is: “Whatever you do, add time and difficulty to every answer you give!”
Example: “It takes me 30 minutes to brush my teeth because I need a break“. “I can fold laundry for only 10 minutes before I have to rest“.
This works just like I told you in my post Did Your Doctor Get the Joke? where I give you examples of things you may say to a doctor that can really hurt your claim.
Like I said, you don’t want to lie on your forms. But you have to watch the way you “share” things with others including your doctor, and on these forms, because this information can and will be used against you in court.
If you just filed your claim and you don’t have an attorney, I want you to be very careful with your answers. But ideally, I would be looking to get an attorney to help make sure that you are completing these forms correctly.
If you are getting turned down by an attorney because he thinks it’s too early to get into your case just make sure you watch your answers.
If you get denied, you will most likely have to appeal and you will be required to answer these questions again. By then, you should be able to get an attorney in your jurisdiction.
Save a copy of your forms so your attorney can check your answers. He may need to address some of the answers you gave on the forms in case they need to be corrected.
Courses by Realtactics4disabilityclaims
You just learned some tips and tricks on how to complete your disability forms. While your disability forms are based on your day to day experiences with your impairments, your medical records will be the key to supporting your answers on those forms.
But do you know how to read your medical records to see if they are actually supporting your disability?
Learn how to read and how to improve your medical records like a pro with my new course “Medical Records Reading 101 for Disability Claimants”. Stop wasting time “hoping for the best” with your current records. The course also includes a Checklist and Worksheet so you can keep track of your treatment to make sure you don’t have any “gaps” that could jeopardize your claim. Take a quick “free sneak peek” before you purchase the course and learn the ins and outs of improving your medical records with actionable instructions from Yours Truly (Yes, Me!).
If you were denied disability and you are looking to appeal with “better” evidence, I created a course about using a Residual Functional Capacity Report to add to your medical records.
This is a form you can take to your doctor to complete in support of your claim. The course includes forms for physical or mental impairments and instructions on how to ask your doctor to complete them. You can take a “free sneak peek” to see if this course is for you. Click on the image below and you will be directed to the course page:
Also, if you are looking to file for disability and don’t know where to start, I created a course called the “5 Day File your Disability Claim” Guide where I teach you every step you should take to file your claim.
Simply click on the image below and it will take you directly to the course page. Take a “free sneak peek” of the first lesson to see if this course is for you.
You know the blog, now you can take one step further and learn the process of preparing and filing your claim.
As a thank you, you will receive a nifty disability checklist where you can write down all your medical information to keep track of your case.
Until next time,