Don’t Jeopardize Your Social Security Disability Claim!
By: Disability Group
Many people filing for disability benefits may unknowingly act in a way that could hurt their disability claims.
When filing for disability benefits, anything you do can be taken into account as evidence of what you might be able to do in a fulltime work setting.
Therefore, such activities as volunteering, going to school, working part-time, and belonging to social clubs or groups will likely impact your disability claim in a negative way.
Some claimants applying for disability benefits think they might come off more sympathetic if they tell a judge they go to church three times a week or volunteer regularly. However, engaging in any routine activities is probably harmful to your disability claim. It shows you are able to maintain a schedule, and a judge or adjudicator would argue this is evidence as to your ability to attend work regularly, as in a fulltime basis.
Similarly, any hobbies you spend time participating in will likely hurt your disability claim. If you still find yourself able to socialize fairly regularly, or even go out to dinner with family on a somewhat regular basis, these activities may be construed in a negative light.
“But how will the Social Security Administration know what I’m doing?”
Through your own words!
In the initial phases of the application process, SSA sends claimants “Function Reports.” These documents give you an opportunity to discuss your limitations in ability to function on a daily basis. You should be truthful when you complete these forms, but make sure to give the whole story. i.e., if you do go to church three times a week, make sure to list how often you have to miss because of your disability.
- In other words, don’t say “I go to church three times a week for two hour sermons” and leave it at that.
- Tell the whole story: “I try to go to church with my family three times a week, but the sermons are two hours long. I usually only stay for the first hour, and at least once a week I’m in too much pain to go at all.”
Through your doctor’s records!
Anything you tell your doctor will likely show up in your medical records. This is not to say you shouldn’t be honest with your physicians about what’s going on with you medically. Be aware, however, that if you are taking a weeklong road trip to Lake Tahoe where you plan to go parasailing, and you mention this to your doctor, it will likely wind up in your medical records.
This begs the question: Should disabled persons take weeklong road trips, go parasailing, play golf on a regular basis, volunteer at the local homeless shelter twice a week, or engage in any of the other myriad activities some claimants spend time doing while applying for disability benefits?
The answer is – from a judge’s or adjudicator’s perspective – probably not.
Again, engaging in any activity – work for pay, work for no pay, school, hobbies, and even things like regular cooking, cleaning, and grocery shopping – will be used as evidence that you are capable to work.