When you begin the process of applying for Social Security disability benefits, you’ll likely be surprised by how much information they ask for. Although you apply for SSDI to replace lost income, they go far beyond the scope of your work in their investigation. In fact, what you do when you’re at home or on your “off-time” does matter when it comes to your disability application. This is one of the many things you should discuss with your disability attorney.
At Byron A. Lassiter & Associates, we focus on helping disability applicants get the benefits they deserve. To learn more about how we can help you, give us a call at 251-478-5297 to schedule a consultation.
Your Disability Doesn’t Just Impact Your Work
When you become disabled, your limitations do not just affect your work. They touch every part of your life. That’s what the SSA is looking for when they ask for information on how you spend your free time and how you take care of your daily tasks.
For example, if you have severe back pain that is keeping you out of work, they expect to see that carry through in your daily life. Perhaps your severe back pain also keeps you from grocery shopping, picking up your children, or using the stairs at home. When you submit your SSDI application, you want to give a comprehensive look into your life and the multitude of ways your disability affects it.
Looking for Inconsistencies Between Your Daily Life and Your Limitations
One of the SSA’s goals in assessing disability applications is looking for inconsistencies and red flags. They are trying to avoid fraud by looking for inconsistencies between what you say you can do and what you actually do.
Let’s use the example from earlier. You report severe back pain that keeps you from working. However, you spend every weekend hiking challenging trails in the natural areas around your city. This indicates that, while you may have back pain, it isn’t truly enough to keep you out of work or out of daily life—you may simply be saving your “good” days for things you want to do, rather than things you have to do.
They are also looking for signs that your disability is completely falsified. Unfortunately, this does occur sometimes, and the SSA does need to protect its legitimate applicants from fraudulent applicants. This leads us to the next thing you need to know.
Don’t Try to Put a Positive Spin on Your Disability
As you fill out the paperwork regarding your ADLs (activities of daily living), ignore the urge to put a positive spin on your disability. People with significant disabilities often feel significant pressure to downplay the severity of their limitations, stay positive, and avoid bothering those around them.
Unfortunately, this can hurt you when it comes to your disability application. The SSA isn’t looking for an optimistic and positive look at your daily life—they are looking for a realistic view of your daily life. If you pretend like you can do more than you truly can, you could end up with a denial letter.
Some of the things you may be asked about in your ADL questionnaire include:
- Grocery shopping, food prep, and cooking
- Where you go when you are not working
- Taking care of pets and children
- How you bathe, get dressed and feed yourself
- Your hobbies
- Socializing and time with loved ones
- Anything you used to do that your disability no longer allows you to do
Answer these questions as honestly as possible. Perhaps you are able to bathe yourself, but you only do so first thing in the morning because your pain increases throughout the day, and bathing at night would be impossible. Maybe you have had to pay a dog walker to take care of your dogs because you are no longer able to walk them without spending the next day in bed. It is not complaining or whining. It is simply advocating for yourself and the benefits you need.
Discuss Your Concerns with Byron A. Lassiter & Associates
If you’re looking for more personalized assistance with your disability application, it’s time to talk to the team at Byron A. Lassiter & Associates. We can help you submit the strongest application possible and fight for the benefits you need. Call us at 251-478-5297 or reach out to us online.