Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Long Beach, CA
Catch 22- Tips & Helpful info
I just finsihed an article on the Adult Function Report Becaise there seems to be a lot of questions about it. If anyone has the time to read it and give me feedback I would be very very grateful. I take criticism well so be honest. Thank you, Trudi
Function Report – How to Complete It
If you after you applied for SSDI and received an Adult Function Report it’s good news, it means your application is under active consideration. If you are just now applying for SSDI it’s best to complete the Adult Function Report and submit it with you application. **
There’s no getting around the fact that it’s a long form with three sections, a total of 21 main questions and 50 sub questions. But, taken a step at a time it’s not as overwhelming as it appears.
SSDI’s purpose for having you complete this form is to compare your daily activities with typical mental and physical job activities. They are looking for consistency between your application and the Adult Function Report to determine if your responses are consistent with your disability. The reality is that they are trying to justify that you can do other work and deny your benefits.
Your goal is to prove that the limitations caused by your disabilities are severe enough to significantly impact activities of your daily life. Always be honest but use the worst day scenario to explain your limitation. Give the SSDI sufficient evidence to ensure they understand your inability to function normally.
General Rules for Answering Questions.
1. Follow the instructions on the front page of the application. Do not leave and field blank, if a question does not apply to you write NA and strike a line through it. If you have already answered a question write “See Question X”.
2. Many times your answers are too lengthy to be answered in the space provided. Write your response on a separate piece of paper with the Question being answered at the top of the page and write in the question’s field “See attachment Question X”
3. Answering the question in depth with as much detail as you can manage is the best approach to this form. Your goal is to paint a picture for the case examiner how horrific your daily life can be.
4. Always be honest but use the worst case scenario when answering the question.
5. It is critical you describe what you cannot do, detail how you are dysfunctional, how your illness limits your ability to function.
6. When describing a symptom use the three characteristics: frequency (how often does it happen), duration (how long does it last) and severity (how bad is it).
7. Use descriptive (adjectives and adverbs) language when writing about your functional limitations.
8. Give related answers even if they don’t specifically relate to the question.
9. Keep in mind to compare your life before your illness with what you’re capable of doing now.
10. And don’t worry about repeating yourself.
Our behaviors are initiated by our psychological perspectives. With a disability almost everyone is affected by psychological disturbance. Some of them include: disorientation to time and place, memory impairment, perceptual or thinking disturbances, change in personality, disturbance in mood, emotional labiality and impaired impulse control and loss of intellectual ability. Mood disturbances include loss of interest in almost all activities, appetite disturbances, increased feeling of guilt, thoughts of suicide and easy distractibility.
Another aspect of the psychological perspective is cognitive impairments which refers to mental processes of perception, memory, judgment and reasoning. It relates to the interaction of the brain and functioning problems such as calculation difficulties, special disorientation, transposition of words, memory disturbances, decision making, confusion, short and long term memory loss and difficulty reading and writing.
Consider each of the disturbances or changes to your psychological perspective and write examples of how they affect you so your can incorporate them in your answers. Using these concepts in your responses corresponds with the SSDI ‘mindset’. They readily understand these symptoms. The use of these concepts enhances your responses.
Question #6,” Describe what you do from the time you wake up until going to bed.” Is an intimidating question and should be the last question answered. The remaining questions on the form will give you a lot of information to use to answer what you do all day. When you do respond to the question consider physical and mental aspects of your life.
Begin with sleeping habits and disturbances and how you feel (emotional & physically) when you get up. Daily patterns vary so don’t hesitate to say “Some days I…and other days I….” Characterize the activities you can’ do comparing them with what you used to be able to. Typical days include eating which can include a wide variety of reaction from lack of appetite, to binging to lacking energy to prepare meals. Consider how you fill your time; do you watch TV because you have no motivation for anything else? Do you read but constantly have to reread passages because you lack focus? Do you start projects and not finish them? Do you just sit and stare at the walls? How has your social life changed due to your illness? It’s okay to go off on tangents. Don’t forget the use of medication and the reactions you may have to it.
You may want to make a list of things you want to describe before you begin answering the question. Do not worry about repeating yourself. The answer to this question should be long enough to require a separate page or attachment
Question #10 “What were you able to do before your illness, injuries or conditions that you can’t do now?” is another critical question. Unbelievably, the form gives you a single line to respond to this question, so obviously because of the serious and complicated nature of your answer you’ll need to submit an attachment.
Before you start to respond to the question take a separate piece of paper and make notes so that your answer is more coherent. The two basic categories of changes are physical and mental. Whichever type of disability you have, your functionality is impaired in both categories and related to one another. This is not a work related question but rather a question about daily activities. Here are some suggestions to get you started
Can you maintain a regular schedule or is your day dictated by your limitations?
What are your physical limitations and how do they effect you, what were like before your disability?
What are your mental limitations and how do they affect you and what were you like before your disability?
What aspects of your disability bother you the most?
Question #20 has 12 sub questions, (a) though (l). The more important questions have explanations and the less critical questions are listed.
Question 20 “(a) Check any of the following items that your illnesses, injuries or conditions affect: [there is a list of 19 physical and mental items] Please explain how your illnesses, injuries or conditions affect each of the items you’ve checked.”
A person with a severe disability will have checked off numerous items and the space provided on the form is insufficient to write a detail answer. Besides the physical items like bending, standing and sitting there are several important cognitive functioning items like memory, completing tasks, concentration, understanding (verbal instructions of concepts), following instructions [verbal or written] and getting along with others. You can readily see how these items are directly related to work activities but you need to describe incidents of how these items affect you daily life.
As an example with my cognitive dysfunction I get easily confused when I’m driving a car and can’t understand the easiest of verbal instructions so I have them written down and still have difficulty arriving at my destination. (This one example shows impairments to memory, understanding and following instructions.) Before I was disabled I was an easy going person rarely showing anger, since my disability I frequently fly off the handle at a check out clerk for checking to slow or a complete stranger who parks too close to my car.
It’s important to think through your experiences to find examples of how your disability limits your ability to function in the items the SSDI mentions.
Other questions include:
(d) For how long can you pay attention?
(e) Do you finish what you start?
(f) How well do you follow written instructions?
(g) How well do you follow spoken instructions?
These questions deal with your ability to focus which is part of the cognitive function of the brain. The root cause can be many factors including anxiety, depression, fearful, anger, and self-esteem. Regardless of the root case, it manifests in the inability to adequately function in one or all of questions d through g. Other cognitive function causing the inability to focus include self-restraint, working memory, emotional control, task initiation, planning and prioritizing, organization, time management, defining and achieving goals..
(h) How well do you get along with authority figures?
(i) Have you ever been fired or laid off from a job because of problems getting along with other people?
*(j) How well do you handle stress?
*(k) How well do you handle changes in routine?
(l) Have you notice any unusual behaviors or fears?
The * next to questions j and k signifies these are important questions. Most people get denied because SSDI determine they are able to do other work or they can do past work. The inability to handle stress or handles changes in routine eliminates you from doing sedentary (other) work. Always be honest but describe as many examples of your inability to handle stress, (getting easily frustrated or angry) and your attitudes towards changes in your daily schedule or environment.
Despite the length of the report, it is important to write detailed answers using descriptive language and objective measurements when possible. Be honest, but use your worst days as examples.
Keep in mind that SSDI is not your friend or advocate. There is a culture of denial that exists within SSDI and they are looking for reasons to deny you benefits. Describe to the best of your ability the limitations to your daily activities.
Make a copy before you mail it to SSDI. I wish you the best of luck.