What to expect after filing an application for Social Security Disability benefits

If you are too ill to work a full-time job, you may be at a place in life where it is time to file an application for Social Security Disability benefits.  We encourage those who are able to use a computer to make their initial application online on Social Security’s website.

Once you’ve submitted your application online, you may wonder what to expect next.  Before your application is considered “complete”, you will need to submit work history and function reports.  In Oregon, we expect that an applicant will be mailed the work history and function reports to fill out within a few weeks to a few months after they submit their electronic application. Many people are denied disability benefits because they fail to return the forms in a timely manner.

Once you get the requests for the forms, you should try to return the completed forms within ten days.  For many people, particularly those with cognitive impairments or health issues that limit their stamina, that can feel overwhelming.  For this reason, if you are interested in getting a start on the forms before the government asks for them, you can download blank versions of the forms to prepare draft answers while you wait.

You can download the blank forms here:

Important note:  You will want to transfer your answers onto the versions the government mails to you, as those have a specific barcode associated with them.  If you have a loved one do the hand writing for you, be sure to note this under section E “Remarks.”  For example, a person with a severe hand condition might say “Because of my difficulty with hand writing due to my conditions, I had my brother act as a scribe and record my answers to this form.”

Your answers do not have to be long. For many of the questions a short sentence is all that is necessary to accurately report your functional limitations.

We advise being honest and accurate in your reporting on these forms.  Don’t over or under-state your functionality or limitations or the importance of the work you used to perform.

For example, on question 18 of the function report, you are asked about hobbies.  Often people fill in all the things that they used to love to do, such as bowling, hiking, hunting or skiing.  However, if those activities are no longer a part of your life due to your health issues, you should not list those activities as hobbies.  The question is asking about current hobbies since your onset date.  For many people, that may be as simple as watching TV and napping.

Similarly, question 14 asks about what house care tasks you are able to do.  If you are only able to do very light duty activities (such as folding laundry on your good days) don’t simply state “laundry.” Explain that you can only do a portion of the chore of laundry (the folding) and only on your better days.

If you need more time on the forms, don’t give up!  Call the number listed on the mailing and ask for additional time.