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The Function Report

  • By:The Law Center for Social Security Rights

Once you file an application for SSD or SSI benefits, you will received a “Function Report”. This is from the DDS (Disability Determination Services) who is working up your claim. Although what you write on the form does provide a basis for Social Security approving your claim, generally, it must be backed-up by the medical evidence.  This is why it is so important to advise your medical providers of all of your complaints and functional restrictions as best as you can.   

Please keep in mind that your answers in this form not only can help you win your claim, but also deny your claim.  Although you obviously must be honest and truthful in filling out this form, it is important to explain how your illnesses, injuries, and/or conditions affect your ability to function. So think carefully before you answer a question with “Good” or “Fine” or something similar. Be sure to look back to see if your illnesses, injuries and/or conditions have ever affected that area of functioning.  If they have, it is better to point out how your symptoms affect that area of functioning even if it is not all the time.

That all being said, here are some specific pointers:

  1. Keep your answers short and to the point, explain why you are having problems. If you need to add additional comments you can add them in the Section E – Remarks section. I do not recommend that you attach additional sheets unless absolutely necessary.    
  2. Question 5. “How do your illnesses, injuries, or conditions limit your ability to work?”  Keep your focus on your functional restrictions, for example, “I can’t walk more than a block,” or “My vision problems make it hard to read,” or “My bipolar causes me to stay up all night and sleep during the day,” or “I can’t sit for too long because my back hurts too much,” or “I must elevate my legs in a recliner otherwise they’ll swell up.”  These are only examples; write what is true for you!
  3. Question 6. “Describe what you do from the time you wake up until the time you go to bed.” Be sure, once again, that your answer shows DDS how your illnesses, injuries, and/or conditions affect what you can do in a typical day.  Imagine that you are the person deciding your claim reading your answer and having to make a decision based upon your answer.  Do you think your answer would be helpful or harmful to your claim?  As an example only, here is an answer that one of my clients wrote: “I nap a lot due to not being able to sleep well at night and due to the high dosage medication I’m taking daily.  My oldest daughters and family help me with everything I have to do.”   
  4. Question 17.  “MONEY a. Are you able to:” Saying you don’t have money doesn’t really answer this question. I believe that DDS asks these questions to determine whether you have the math skills and/or mental ability to Pay Bills, Count change, Handle a savings account and Use a checkbook/money orders.
  5. Question  20. a. “Check any of the following items that your illnesses, injuries, or conditions affect:” Be sure to check off all boxes that are applicable.  For example, if your illnesses, injuries and/or conditions are primarily physical, but they cause problems with your Memory, Completing Tasks, Concentration, Understanding, Following Instructions, Using Hands and/or Getting Along with Others, then be sure to check those boxes. So be sure to consider, when you are experience symptoms such as pain and/or fatigue (and/or other symptoms), whether those symptoms affect your functioning in those areas. Of course, if you suffer from mental impairments, those conditions will directly affect your ability to function in those areas and check the applicable boxes. 

The above tips are not all encompassing.  It is recommended that an individual applying for social security disability or SSI benefits consult with an attorney familiar with social security disability claims.

Posted in: SSDI, SSI