December 6, 2010
Why The Social Security Administration Cares If You Can Make Your Bed
As silly as that may sound, when the Social Security Administration (SSA) is trying to determine if you are disabled they may want to know if you can make your bed, bathe & dress yourself, sweep & mop your floor, and take out the trash, among other things. These are called “Activities of Daily Living” or ADL’s. Activities of Daily Living are the things a person usually does on a routine basis to maintain their household and take care of themselves.
Why does the Social Security Administration (SSA) or an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) care about activities of daily living? In Indianapolis disability lawyer Scott Lewis’ experience, the SSA is trying to determine how much the Indiana disability claimant is restricted by examining what the disability claimant can or cannot do. At times, Indiana disability claimants applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits may be asked to fill out a form concerning their activities of daily living. While it is important to be honest when completing these forms, it is also important to FULLY explain what you can or cannot do. If it is necessary to take breaks due to pain, or other disabling conditions (either mental or physical), it is important to document these restrictions accurately. Sometimes the Social Security Administration (SSA) may ask a third party to comment on your activities of daily living. This may be a friend or neighbor. It is important you let these third parties know what your restrictions and symptoms are. Indianapolis Social Security Attorney Scott Lewis often finds these third party evaluations are not completely accurate regarding the claimants disabling condition(s).
This line of questioning regarding your activities of daily living usually gets addressed when you find yourself in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The Administrative Law Judge may ask you if you are able to watch your 5 year old son all day. You answer “yes,” although you know if you don’t take care of your child there is no one else to take care of him and when you do take care of him you are in so much pain you need to be seen by a physician. Believe it or not, the fact you work through the pain to take care of your family may be used against you. The Administrative Law Judge may believe if you can take care of your own children, you might be able to work in a daycare or another occupation. With that in mind, Indianapolis disability lawyer Scott Lewis believes it is very important to explain to the ALJ the pain you experience when you care for your children or for yourself.
So, when the SSA or an ALJ asks you if you can clean your house, they probably do not care how beautiful your house is. When the SSA or an ALJ asks you if you can take care of your children, they probably do not care how good of a parent you are. When the SSA or an ALJ asks you if you can bathe and dress yourself they probably do not care if you are a snappy dresser or smell good. There are reasons for the questions they are asking you regarding your activities of daily living. With that in mind, be honest but do not overstate your abilities. Indiana Social Security disability attorney Scott Lewis’ experience is that if you are not honest with the SSA or the ALJ, it usually comes back to haunt you and you may lose all of your credibility and find yourself with an unfavorable outcome.
The above information is the opinion of Indianapolis disability attorney Scott D. Lewis and should not be taken as legal advice.