As many Social Security Disability applicants may know, eligibility for disability benefits is largely based around a person’s ability to work and earn a living. However, a serious disability or health condition can impact more than just your work life. Today’s blog question was sent to us on Facebook and deals with the connection between working and other activities of daily living.
If you have a question that you’d like us to answer in a future blog post, leave it in the comment section below! Today’s question is:
Will the SSA consider me disabled if I can work but can no longer keep up with other activities of daily living?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers two different types of disability benefits. These are Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). To qualify for either program, applicants must meet the SSA’s standard of disability. This is made up of the following criteria:
- The person has a physical or mental condition that prevents them from engaging in Substantial Gainful Activity. In 2014, you are considered to be doing Substantial Gainful Activity if you earn more than $1,070—or $1,800 if you are blind.
- The person’s condition has lasted, or is expected to last at least one year or result in death.
Because these criteria are based around a person’s ability to work, the SSA will evaluate your application to determine what work-related activities you can and can’t do. As you may have noticed, the SSA’s standard of disability makes no mention of household tasks—or activities of daily living. However, this does not mean that activities of daily living don’t impact the SSA’s decision making process.
Activities of Daily Living and the SSA’s Decision Making Process
When you apply for Social Security Disability benefits, the SSA will send you a form titled “Adult Function Report”—often called the Activities of Daily Living Assessment. On this form you will be required to answer questions about daily activities and tasks. This form covers topics such as dressing, bathing, feeding yourself, and using the bathroom. Although these types of activities are different than the tasks required to work, there is often overlap between the two.
Typically, if you cannot keep up with activities of daily living, you will also be unable to keep up with work activities.
For example: A person who is physically incapable of bathing themselves and is mentally incapable of handling their own finances will not likely have the skill set required to perform any type of work—regardless of the fact that the person’s job doesn’t involve bathing or handling money.
If there are inconsistencies between the two types of activities, it is likely that your claim will be denied.
For example: If an applicant states that they are unable to bathe or dress on their own, but an employer states that they are able to work stocking shelves in a grocery store—the SSA will not find their claim to be credible and will likely assume that they are exaggerating or embellishing their inability to perform activities of daily living.
To summarize, the activities of daily living assessment is designed in such a way that the SSA is able to gauge the severity of a person’s disability and how it impacts every aspect of an applicant’s life. It is highly unlikely that an applicant who cannot perform day-to-day activities will be able to work and earn a living.
Completing the Activities of Daily Living Assessment
When completing your activities of daily living assessment, be sure to be extremely detailed in your answers. Even if you feel certain tasks are tolerable, the SSA will want to know any and all symptoms you experience while doing them.
Also be sure to inform your references about your activities of daily living. This will prevent any inconsistencies from occurring. It is important to do this because while an employer might know how your condition affects your work performance, they may have no idea how it affects your home life. If the SSA contacts them, you will want to ensure that their answers are consistent with yours.
If you have any questions about the activities of daily living assessment contact the SSA to speak with a representative.