Soon after you submit your application for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, you’ll receive the Social Security Administration’s Adult Function Report (SSA 3373). There’s a lot of paperwork involved with getting approved for benefits, but you’ll want to pay extra attention to SSA 3373. The Adult Function Report is often the stumbling block that disqualifies applicants from receiving benefits.
The purpose of the Adult Function Report
The Adult Function Report allows you to detail how your disability affects your day-to-day living. The form will ask you about bathing, preparing meals, driving, even taking care of pets and animals. By acquiring an understanding of a typical day living with your disability, the SSA can gain an idea of your ability function in a work environment. Establishing consistency in the limitations imposed by your disability is key.
If you are approved to receive SSD benefits, you will have to fill out the SSA 3373 form during Continuing Disability Reviews to provide the Social Security Administration (SSA) with an update on your disability.
Some may say that the true purpose of the SSA 3373 is to catch you in a lie in order to deny you benefits. This proposition is neither provable, nor helpful to your case. Unquestionably, the SSA evaluates applicants with rigor. That is why it is so important to be truthful and meticulous in filling out your Adult Function Report.
Communicating your disability
When completing the SSA 3373 form, many SSD applicants make the mistake of focusing on what they still can do, rather than what they are no longer able to do or are no longer able to do normally.
For instance, you may think, “I can still get dressed,” but if it takes you twice as long, or you’ve modified your clothes because you can’t button a shirt now, you should notate that. If you can’t function until your morning medication takes effect, include that in your report. Even if you can still complete many functions of normal life, it’s important to explain how your disability affects these functions. You want to paint the picture of what normal life used to be like, and how your life is different now.
Are certain times of the day easier for you than others? Do you have good days and bad days? Explain these cycles in as much detail as you can on your report.
The SSA will evaluate the information in your report as it relates to your ability to work eight hours per day, five days per week. Therefore, as you describe living with your disability, keep in mind how your experiences affect your ability to work.
Tips for filling out your report
For many applicants, the Adult Function Report can be quite intimidating. They interpret the 10-page document as their opportunity to convince the SSA of their disability. It’s better to let the evidence speak for itself. The challenge here isn’t to be convincing. The challenge is to be thorough.
- Take your time. There are likely more tasks affected by your disability than you may immediately realize. You may try keeping a journal for a week or two, writing down any time you struggle with an activity. Ask someone who you interact with regularly about the differences they see in your day-to-day life.
- Avoid absolutes. Be careful when you say you can “always” or “never” complete a task unless that is truly the case. Instead, use language like “usually,” “rarely,” “on good days,” “when my symptoms are acting up,” or “most of the time.”
- Include side effects of your medications. If your medications cause fatigue, disorientation, pain, difficulty concentrating, etc., include these problems in your report.
- Include after-effects of activities. If you have to stop and rest after a certain activity, or if lifting a certain amount of weight causes pain, include these effects in your report.
- Be careful with Yes or No questions. Do not mark an answer that is untrue for you. If you need to clarify your experience regarding a yes-or-no question, use the space below the question to go into detail.
- Use extra pages if necessary. The form comes with only one page for “remarks,” but you’re welcome to include extra pages if you need more space.
- Don’t worry about being perfect. Simply be thorough.
- Be honest. Don’t gloss over your difficulties, but don’t exaggerate them, either. Remember, the SSA will compare your answers on the Adult Function Report to your initial application, as well as to the medical records supplied by your physicians.
- Update your function report regularly. As your condition evolves, so will your experience in navigating your day-to-day life.
Keep in mind that those who decide whether you qualify for SSD benefits will not see you in person before you submit your SSA 3373 form. Your Adult Function Report will be reviewed by the Georgia Disability Adjudication Services examiners, so when filling out your report, imagine how your answers might be perceived by a panel or board of people who have never met you.
Facing your disability
Our society values toughness, sometimes to a fault. Writing about your disability in such depth may feel uncomfortable or even depressing. It’s hard to think of yourself in terms of being disabled, but that’s what you’re applying for. It can be upsetting, but be realistic and honest about your situation. Being disabled makes you no less of a human being. You deserve the security and support you need to avoid a life of anguish and distress.
You don’t have to go through this process alone. At Affleck & Gordon, we’ve been helping clients obtain disability benefits for more than 40 years. We can assist you in completing your SSA 3373 form and see your disability case all the way through.
We don’t charge to hear about your case. We’ll evaluate your claim for free. Get started here, or call us to arrange an appointment.
If your Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income claim has been denied, or you’re thinking about filing and don’t know where to start, Affleck and Gordon can help. We’ve been helping people in Georgia just like you for over 40 years.
Sign up for a free case evaluation here, or call us (404) 373-1649.