How to Fill Out the SSA Function Report – Part 2

In Part 2 of our series on filling out the Function Report (Form SSA-3373) for your Social Security Disability application, attorney Matthew Shupe explains how to fill out sections C & D. Matt provides guidance on how to answer questions on the Function Report with clarity and consistency, and provides example scenarios and sample answers. Part 1, “How to Fill Out the SSA Function Report”, covering Section A & B, can be found here.

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Without further ado, we present attorney Matthew Shupe with guidance on completing the daily living and activities portion, Sections C & D, of the disability application Function Report. Form SSA-3373, “Function Report – Adult”, available in PDF on ssa.gov.

Transcript from Video:

Today, I’m here to discuss Parts C and D of Social Security’s Function Report. I already went over Parts A and B of the Function Report in an earlier video, which can be found at our Balin Law YouTube channel, and on our website. To recap, the Function Report is a very important document that is part of Social Security’s workup of your disability case.

The areas that we’re going to be discussing today cover your ability to do certain activities around the house and how those abilities are affected by your health problems. Very important to be as thorough and accurate as possible when completing the Social Security Function Report. And that is because the questions you’re asked in the Function Report are very similar to the questions that a disability judge would ask you at a hearing at a later date. And it’s important that you remain consistent with what you said in the paper document, the Function Report, and many months later, you’re consistent as well at the hearing.

So without further ado, let’s get into the document itself.

Function Report, Section C: How to answer questions about Daily Activities with examples

As we could see, Part C is asking about your activities of daily living. Basically, Social Security is looking for you to recap what a typical day looks like. They want to get a sense of whether your typical activities and behaviors are consistent with or inconsistent with the claims that you’re making about how your health problems are affecting you. People just kind of leave it blank and don’t think much of it.

Consistency, consistency, consistency

So I’m going to start with question number eight. Do you take care of pets or other animals? So why is that relevant? Let’s say in your disability case, one of your limitations are you say that you have difficulty with walking long distances? Well, at the same time, you’re taking care of St. Bernard and are able to walk it, tends to undercut the allegation that you have trouble walking distances.

But if you say, “yes, I do take care of pets or other animals”, and you specify what it is and it’s a goldfish or a lizard. Well, taking care of goldfish or a lizard, you know, you don’t take those for out for a walk so that’s not going to trip you up much. It’s not going to look like an inconsistency.

Include Mental Abilities, Not Just Physical Abilities, in Your Answers

Moving on, question 12 is also an area where I see people make some mistakes while they’re completing the Function Report. It’s asking about your ability to perform personal care, and you need to keep in mind when you are completing this. It’s not just your physical ability to complete these tasks, like bathing and dressing, that are relevant. It’s also your mental ability to complete the tasks. You know, some, an individual may have the ability to dress themselves, but they may have trouble maintaining a schedule where they’re changing their clothes or showering on a daily basis due to depressive symptoms or the side effects of a traumatic brain injury.

Similarly, someone may have the ability to shower independently, but they might require a shower chair or require that a family member be home while they shower in case they’re a fall risk, such as something like if you have a seizure disorder, you might be a fall risk. So it’s important not to just think about what musculoskeletal issues you have that are limiting you, but all the physical and environmental limitations that make it tough to complete these tasks.

Include Mental Abilities, Not Just Physical Abilities, in Your Answers

I’m going to go ahead to question 14 at which is asking what work, what chores can you do around the house. You know, of course be as accurate as possible. Feel free to mention the chores that you can no longer do as a result of your health problems. Such as a common one that we see is folks can no longer do work involving getting up on a ladder, such as changing the gutters, holiday decorations, changing light bulbs, things of that nature.

I also wanted to go to question 18 – Hobbies and Interests. Don’t be afraid to list hobbies you enjoy, but remember to place them, these activities, in the proper context. I mean, if you list basketball as a hobby, but you’re no longer able to play it and you only go to the court to watch pickup games, be sure to clarify and put that in there.

Function Report, Section D: Describing the impact of your disability

Now we’re going to move to part D which is less about your activities of daily living and it’s information about how you are able to function.

You see it, question 20 Part A, they’re only giving you 3 lines to complete that. That might not be enough space, particularly if you have multiple disabling conditions. Feel free to supplement this form with a separate piece of paper or at the end of the form, on page 10, Part E, there’s additional space for additional remarks.

Again, when you are talking about your abilities, keep in mind what impairments that you’re alleging are the cause of your disability. Just for sake of consistency. For instance, if you mention trouble using your hands in Part D but earlier you mentioned among hobbies, you crochet or you play video games. Then that might be an inconsistency that Social Security will point out. Because to either crochet or play video games, those activities require constant usage of your hands. So just be cognizant of the consistency of the form as you’re completing it.

And finally, as we mentioned, Part E, that’s just some additional space for any additional remarks. You know, for example, if you want to go back to the hand issues I mentioned earlier. If the hand issue stems from either repetitive usage from typing at your job, that’s something Social Security would like to know, and that’d be an appropriate place for that.

Conclusion

As always, very important to have an experienced attorney to assist you with your disability case. And we at Balin Law are happy to review and assist you with completing the Social Security Function Report and any of the other mountain of forms that you need to complete while applying for disability. Thank you.

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