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Social Security Disability: What Are Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)?

When you begin the process of applying for Social Security Disability, you will receive a form called the “Adult Function Report” or “3373”. This form is part of the process that the Social Security Administration (SSA) will use to evaluate how your disability keeps your from going back to full time work and affects your other Activities of Daily Living.

If you speak another language, the form is only available in English, but the cover page will be in your selected language so you will want assistance to understand and complete the form.

What Are ADLs?

Activities of Daily Living “ADLs” are those things we do on a day-to-day basis like cleaning house, cooking, bathing, getting dressed, using the bathroom, taking care of pets, and paying bills.

Why Does the Social Security Administration Care about ADLs?

SSA uses the Function Form to look at how the disability you are reporting affects your day-to-day life or your “Activities of Daily Living”.

Tips To Complete the ADL Form

  • Take time to read and understand the questions on the form. Many people think it’s unimportant, but this is a mistake.
  • Complete the function report with as much detail as possible.
  • Be honest and CONSISTENT in your answers. The SSA Examiners and the judges who hear appeals, use your answers to determine how well you function, and to see if the statements you make about your condition are consistent.

Example of How Function Reports Can Help “Claimants” (disability applicants) Win Their Claims.

  • A claimant filed for disability due to lumbar spinal stenosis (back problem). On the function report, the claimant reported she couldn’t lift her arms to wash her hair and was unable to stand for more than a few minutes at a time causing her to frequently make microwave meals that were quick and easy. The claim was initially denied, but at the her hearing for appeals, the administrative law judge (ALJ) asked the claimant to describe her typical day. The claimant responded that she awoke, made cereal for breakfast, and would rest until her daughter arrived. Her daughter would then help her dress and wash her hair. The ALJ concluded that because the claimant’s statements were consistent, they were credible, and approved the claim.

Understanding what Activities of Daily Living are will help you report exactly how your life is affected by your disability. The more you understand the Social Security Disability application process (and its many moving parts) the more likely you are to build a case for why you are unable to return to your previous job. Unfortunately, there is no clear science to completing your Function Report form because no two SSA Examiners are the same, but knowing to be clear, detailed, and honest is a great place to start.

If you would like to employ an agent to assist you in completing the Function Report form and provide guidance throughout the Social Security Disability application process, contact us for more information on our services and fees.