After you apply for Social Security disability benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will begin gathering information about your medical conditions and symptoms, and how these affect your ability to do different things, such as stand for any length of time, lift things of various weights, or work on tasks that require concentration. Their goal is to determine if there is any type of job that you would be able to perform on a regular basis.
To help make this determination, the SSA will review your medical records, and may ask your doctor to fill out a report, or send you out for an examination at the SSA’s expense. However, they are also interested in your input as to what symptoms you experience and how they affect your ability to work. Having you complete the Adult Disability Report (Form SSA-3368) is one of the ways they get this information from you. The ADR is the basic form used for adults who are claiming disability benefits. You should fill the form out yourself, and though you may have a representative such as a Social Security Disability attorney or advocate help you with it, you should not have your doctor fill out any of it. The SSA has other forms which they will ask your doctor to fill out on your behalf.
Much of the ADR is simple and straightforward. You should always answer all questions as completely as you can. Don’t leave anything blank. If any section does not apply to you, write N/A in it. While the form itself isn’t complicated, there are some things you should know about filling it out, especially if you do it yourself. Here are some tips for filling out this form:
- In Section 3 (MEDICAL CONDITIONS), make sure that you list each and every medical or mental problem that you have. Use additional paper if you need to. Explain how they limit your ability to work. Often, a person with several medical conditions will be approved for disability benefits even if none of the medical conditions would have qualified in and of itself.
- In Section 4 (WORK ACTIVITY), make sure that you accurately portray how your disability affected you on the job and what restrictions it placed on you. You don’t want to exaggerate, but you certainly don’t want to downplay the limitations your disability has caused either.
- In Section 6 (JOB HISTORY), it is important to list ALL jobs you have held over the past fifteen years, starting with the most recent and working your way back. Failure to disclose jobs you have held can result in legal trouble and a denial of your claim. Use a separate sheet of paper if you have had more than six jobs in the past fifteen years. In Section 6, you will be asked about the type of work you performed. While you should always be honest in filling this out, but it helps to consult a Social Security lawyer regarding how you should phrase your answers.
- In Section 7 (MEDICINES), make sure you list all of your medications, both prescription and over the counter, that you take. Don’t leave anything out, even if it’s just a pain reliever.
- In Section 8 (MEDICAL TREATMENT), you will want to list all medical and mental health professionals you are seeing or have seen. Fill the information out as accurately as you can. If you’re unsure of anything, contact your health care provider and ask.
- Section 11 is reserved for remarks. Don’t leave this blank. Make your case and add any additional information that may be pertinent to your disability claim.
Social Security disability claims involve lots of paperwork. Chances are, you will receive other reports to complete from the SSA. An experienced disability attorney or advocate is familiar with Social Security reports and can assist you in filling them out. They can ensure that you are properly answering each question, and can provide advice as to what types of comments might be helpful to add. The Social Security disability process is long and arduous, and it is best to do everything right from the start to increase the odds that your application will be approved and you won’t be forced to progress through multiple levels of appeals.
By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®