Does Social Security Really Need ALL Those Forms?

June 10, 2015

When applying for Social Security Disability benefits, SSA will ask you for a lot of forms.  An overwhelming amount of forms. A staggering amount of forms.  Are they really necessary?

Short answer:  yes.

Winning a claim has become more difficult in recent years and judges are  increasingly using an individual’s own statements against him or her. How you complete the SSA forms can make a big difference in winning your disability claim.  The best policy is to be honest, accurate, and thorough. For example, many clients answer that they can walk “a mile” or “a block” before needing to rest. While they may have been able to walk that far when healthy, their ability may have changed since they became disabled. Check the actual distance you can walk before committing it to paper.

Similarly, SSA asks about your ability to lift. It is important to understand they are really asking about your ability to lift things repeatedly like in a work situation. Try lifting various items around the house on different days and note closely whether lifting certain items increases pain in a certain area. Just because you used to lift a certain amount of weight while working, does not mean you are still capable of lifting that amount when disabled. You should also talk with your doctor about your limitations to ensure he or she can treat your medical conditions more effectively.

Finally, when describing your ability to perform activities of daily living (ADLs), consider how the way you perform ADLs may have changed since you became disabled. If you have arthritic hand problems, do you need frequent rest breaks to massage your hands when peeling or chopping food items? Do you need extra rest breaks when sweeping due to increased lower back pain? When describing your ability to perform ADLs, be sure to provide a complete answer. A complete answer includes your limitations when performing such activities.

If your disability claim is important to you, it is worth the effort to test yourself around the house or neighborhood to actually figure out your physical limitations. Overestimating your capacity in an effort to look “good” can undermine your claim.  Remember:  be honest, thorough and accurate.

And call me if you have questions.  I can be reached at 904.981.9812.

 

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