How does Social Security use my answers on these forms to assess my ability to work?
While your representative cannot tell you what to put in your answers, we can advise you how your answers to these questions will be viewed by Social Security and the sorts of things you should think about in answering the questions presented. As mentioned above, these forms are used to determine your functional capacity for work based on what you are able to accomplish at home and in your daily life. In answering the questions presented, you should carefully think of all the things you do in order to accommodate your impairments so that you can accomplish the task in question. The example below illustrates this point.
Example – in section 16 of the form, you state that you do shopping in stores for groceries, clothes and other items, and that you go shopping in stores once per week.
The adjudicator or Judge can then assume that you are able to stand and walk for at least some period of time, that you can drive to the store or take public transportation, that you can lift and carry bags of groceries and items for purchase, that you do not have any problems interacting with people and being in crowds, etc. They could then use this as evidence that you would be capable of performing a job like a cashier, where you would need to stand and carry certain items, as well as interact with the general public.
This is why it is important that you include in your answers to these questions anything you do to accommodate your impairments in order to do your shopping in stores. So, in the example above, you should state (only if it is true) that you only go shopping with a friend or family member to help with lifting and carrying heavier items, or that you only go for a short period of time, or if you avoid peak hours when there are more people.