Are you looking for information on how to fill out the Social Security Function Report? Maybe just wondering how to fill it out in an unreasonable deadline? You’ve come to the right place.
I’ve previously written about Social Security’s “poor forms” and so, I want to get this out of the way. The letter that most State agencies use is abusive. Social Security Function Reports are sent with a letter that usually gives the claimant only 10 days from the date of the letter to have the forms completed and returned. Considering these are sent by regular mail, most people don’t have more than a day to complete the Function Report and get it back.
Here’s an example of a recent letter received by one of our clients:
As you can see, the date the letter was generated was 10/12/23, and the “due date” is 10/22/23. It was received by my client on 10/18/23. Simply impossible.
I always try to tell clients not to worry about these deadlines. Social Security cares about speed more than accuracy, but I have yet to see a reasonably completed form within a reasonable amount of time result in a denial simply based on it being sent in a few days or a week after this deadline.
How to complete the Function Report
The Function Report asks you to list your daily activities and limitations. It’s important on this form that you don’t minimize your symptoms and you read the questions carefully. Let’s go over the individual sections.
Social Security Function Report (SSA 3373) Section A:
This section is simply general information – contact info and a brief question about your living arrangements.
Social Security Function Report (SSA 3373) Section B:
Section B asks for a brief summary of how your illnesses or conditions impact your ability to work. There isn’t a lot of space here, but it’s important that you not limit yourself to one condition or impact. For example, if you primarily suffer from shoulder issues that impair your ability to lift and carry – consider whether pain from that condition would also make it difficult to concentrate, or if your shoulder would hurt if you tried sitting at a computer typing all day.
This doesn’t have to be long, but it should give a general overview of the reasons you can’t work.
Social Security Function Report (SSA 3373) Section C:
Section C is much longer, stretching for pages and asking specific questions about your daily activities. I want to highlight a few of the important places I’ve seen claimants trip up.
Question 12: Personal Care: These questions ask about basic activities of self care. What a lot of people miss on some of these questions are that there is a difference between “can’t dress yourself” and “no problem.” For example, if you wear loose fitting clothing, or sometimes skip a day showering because of pain, those are limitations that should be included here.
Questions 13 and 14: Meals and House and Yardwork
Many people don’t indicate limitations on these activities, responding only to the yes or no nature of these questions. If you only make microwaved meals, or sandwiches because you can’t cook elaborate meals, or if you wash laundry but someone else has to bring the basket to the laundry machine, it’s important to discuss the accommodations when completed the Function Report, not just the things you do.
Question 18: Hobbies and Interests
There is nothing wrong with having activities you are interested in. Many people write down the things they like, or used to enjoy doing, without discussing how they are now limited. Make sure you note where there are things you can no longer do.
Question 19 Social Activities
Similar here – if you have to leave events because of your symptoms, or have limited your socializing as a result, you should indicate that, and not only the things you might do in the abstract.
Social Security Function Report (SSA 3373) Section D:
This is a big one. Think carefully when checking these boxes and consider whether any of your symptoms make it hard for you to concentrate, focus, finish tasks, maintain attention on instructions and whether you’re ever irritable because of your pain. These are often left unchecked by people with severe physical conditions, and they should not be.
Likewise, in answering the sub questions about how long you can pay attention, finish what you start, and follow instructions, again consider the impact of all of your symptoms as they’d impact you over the course of a 5-day 8-hour day workweek.
There are a lot of pitfalls in how to complete the Function Report. One of them is stressing unnecessarily about the ridiculous deadline you’ve been given. You can only do your best and know that, if you have an advocate or attorney they will keep the adjudicator up-to-date with your progress. If you’re not sure how to fill out any of these forms, or if you’re worried you may impact your case, reach out to a qualified attorney social security attorney near you.
Rich Frankel is the managing partner of Bross & Frankel. He is a member of the New Jersey and Pennsylvania bars. He has focused exclusively on disability and social security benefits since 2005.
Mr. Frankel joined what is now Bross & Frankel after having watched his father struggle with disability, fighting a lengthy illness. Mr. Frankel founded the firm’s veteran’s law practice and substantially grew the social security disability practice, focusing Bross & Frankel’s ability to fight for all of the disability benefits available to his clients.
Mr. Frankel additionally fights for clients in court, obtaining frequent victories in Social Security appeals and against insurance companies in Federal court.