It was recently reported that individuals have not been able to attend their social security disability hearing because SSA hearing office personnel have denied individuals access to the hearing office as a result of insufficient identification. Although SSA hearing office personnel should not deny an individual access to the hearing office because of insufficient identification, an individual attending a hearing either as a claimant or witness should bring proper identification to the hearing office such as a current driver’s license, State ID, or certified birth certificate. If you are denied access to the hearing office because of insufficient ID, you should politely ask to speak with the hearing office manager.
As part of SSA’s disability determination process, SSA will evaluate an individual’s (Claimant) work history to determine whether a Claimant can return to a Claimant’s past work or has skills that are transferrable to other work. SSA will evaluate the Claimant’s “Past Relevant Work (PRW)” for the last 15 years.
In SSA’s assessment of a Claimant’s past work, SSA will require a Claimant to complete a Work History Report (Form SSA 3369-BK). The Work History Report is very important to the disability determination process and the Claimant should take care and time in completing the form.
Tip 1: On page 1 of the Work History Report, the Job Title/Type of Business for each job held should be listed in chronological order with the most recent Job Title/Type of Business first. (Note: some people have had several job titles within the same business. Each Job Title held by the Claimant needs to be chronologically listed regardless if it was held in the same business)
Tip 2: For each Job Title listed, a Claimant should be specific regarding the month, date and year when the job began and when the job ended.
Tip 3: For each Job Title, the Claimant should provide specific and detailed information as to what job duties were performed, what type of machines were used (e.g., injection mold, computer, ink press), examples of what was lifted/carried, the heaviest weight lifted, how much standing/walking was required, etc. In summary, the form should be filled out as if the form was a resume/application to a prospective employer. The goal is to provide sufficient information to SSA so SSA can properly assess the Claimant’s past work.
Tip 4: Each question for each Job Title should be answered with complete, accurate and truthful information. Providing inaccurate information or failure to answer a question will likely adversely impact the claim for benefits.
Tip 5: A Claimant should not guess, minimize or exaggerate answers. If a Claimant cannot recall the particulars of how a job was performed, the Claimant should contact the Claimant’s former employer and obtain a job description including but not limited to the exertional demands of the job (e.g., lifting frequently and occasionally) and posture requirements (e.g., sitting / standing / bending / squatting).
Tip 6: If a Claimant has had multiple Job Titles within the last 15 years and cannot recall each Job Title, the Claimant should contact SSA and request that SSA provide a Detailed Earnings Query (DEQY). A DEQY will identify each employer the Claimant has worked for within the last 15 years. The DEQY can be used as a tool to jog the memory as to job titles performed at a particular employer.
As part of SSA’s disability determination process, SSA will evaluate the severity of an individual’s (Claimant) impairment(s). One tool that SSA uses to evaluate the severity of a Claimant’s impairment(s) is the Claimant’s ability to complete activities of daily living (ADLs). In assessing a Claimant’s ADLs, SSA will likely have a Claimant complete a questionnaire known as an “Adult Function Report” (SSA 337-BK).
At several stages during the disability determination process, SSA will review with scrutiny a Claimant’s answers to this questionnaire. Therefore, the Claimant should take care and time in answering the Adult Function Report questions.
In answering the Adult Function Report questionnaire, the Claimant may wish to consider the following Tips:
Tip 1 Unless a question asks for information concerning how daily activities were performed in the past, the Claimant’s answers should focus on the Claimant’s current situation.
Tip 2 SSA will ask a Claimant to provide information describing what a Claimant does from the time a Claimant wakes up until the time a Claimant goes to bed (Question 6). A lot of Claimants fail to answer this question which likely causes unnecessary delay in SSA processing the claim. A Claimant should provide sufficient information that gives SSA a general overview as to how a Claimant spends a typical day. Because SSA provides limited space to answer this question, the Claimant should provide concise to the point answers.
Tip 3 It is recommend that a Claimant answer each question with complete, concise, accurate and truthful information. Providing answers that are inaccurate, incomplete, exaggerated or failure to answer a question will likely adversely impact the claim.
Tip 4 If a question pertains to a particular daily activity that now takes longer to complete because of symptoms related to the impairment, such as pain, the need for rest, the need to lie down or the need to take medication, the answer should reflect the Claimant’s difficulty in performing the activity at a reasonable pace.
Tip 5 If a Claimant has good days and bad days, a Claimant should state how a bad day impacts a Claimant performing a specific daily activity as well as how a good day impacts the Claimant performing the activity.
Tip 6 If a Claimant needs help with some daily activities such as shopping, laundry, driving, preparing meals, etc., the Claimant’s answers should reflect that help is needed and the type, frequency and duration of help.
Tip 7 If side effects from medication impact the ability to perform certain daily activities, the Claimant’s answers should reflect how medications impact a particular daily activity.
Tip 8 Don’t use vague answers such as: “I don’t do anything” or “I don’t do a lot”.
Tip 9 Before the Adult Function Report is submitted to SSA, the Claimant should carefully review the answers for accuracy and completeness.
Tip 10 Before the Adult Function Report is submitted to SSA, the Claimant should make a copy for his or her file for reference in the future.
The above Tips are not all encompassing. It is recommended that an individual applying for social security disability benefits consult with a representative or attorney familiar with representing individuals with social security disability claims.