What You Do in Your Spare Time Matters When Trying to Get Social Security Disability
As you work through your Social Security disability application, you may be shocked to find out just how much information the SSA wants. They aren’t just looking for a brief overview of your work, your disability, and your general physical limitations. They want an in-depth look at your life, what you do at work, what you do to treat your disability, and how you spend your time away from work. Knowing this in advance can make it easier to prepare for disability hearings and paperwork.
The Dansby Law Firm can help you navigate your application process. Schedule a consultation with our team today by calling us at 334-834-7001.
It Goes Beyond Your Work Capabilities
When you initiate a Social Security disability application, you might think that the SSA is just interested in your work history, your disability, and your ability to work. But they really want a full picture of your disability and how it affects every single part of your life. This makes sense—if you claim that your back pain makes it impossible to work, but you make it a priority to surf three times a week, that does look like a red flag.
The Social Security Administration is looking for consistency between what you claim you cannot do at work and what you can or cannot do at home. Many of the things you do in your free time, from grocery shopping or walking your kids to school to bathing yourself and applying makeup, have actions in common with your work. The gross motor skills, fine motor skills, and mental concentration you have in one area of your life carries through into other areas.
Think About Your Daily Activities
To prepare for this part of your disability application, consider the activities that are part of your daily life. Those in world of disability services and disability care use the term “activities of daily living,” often shortened to ADLs. The amount of support you need with these activities is a helpful way to measure the effect of your disability on your life. Common ADLs include:
- Getting yourself in and out of bed
- Daily hygiene tasks
- Feeding yourself and preparing meals
- Cleaning your home
- Caring for your children
- Running errands and grocery shopping
- Engaging in hobbies
Anything that is a regular part of your life may come up in an interview with the SSA. They are likely to ask you how you complete a specific task and whether or not you are able to complete it independently. This is where it can get complicated.
Remember Your Limitations
It’s common for SSDI applicants to answer “yes” to specific tasks, without considering just how much they have to change in order to perform that task. For example, you might say that you can do your laundry independently and leave it at that. However, since you’ve been accommodating your disability for years, you don’t think to mention that you have had to move your appliances to the main floor, that you have to leave a full day between drying and folding to avoid crippling back pain, and that you need your spouse to put the clothes away because you can’t reach the drawers.
If you told the SSA that, it would look much different than a simple “yes.” When you answer these questions, think about how you do each task—and then compare it to how a non-disabled person without limitations would do that same task.
Honesty is the Best Policy
It’s important to avoid downplaying your disability and the accommodations you make for it. However, you also want to avoid making your disability sound worse than it is because you’re afraid your application will get denied. The SSA is extremely attentive, and any disconnect between what you say you can do and what you actually do will not go unnoticed. As you prepare for your SSDI interviews or hearing, your attorney will run through these questions with you and ensure that you know how to answer them.
Prepare for Your SSDI Claim with The Dansby Law Firm
With the right disability attorney on your side, you can feel confident as you apply for SSDI. Schedule a time to talk with The Dansby Law Firm now by contacting us online or calling us at 334-834-7001.