What Are ADLs?

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Activities of daily living (ADLs) are the basic tasks that the average person does on a day-to-day basis as part of a normal life. They include everything from getting dressed to planning and preparing a meal. When a person files for SSDI or SSI benefits, the SSA may inquire about their ability to perform ADLs. In this article, you will find a more comprehensive overview of ADLs and an explanation of their importance in the Social Security disability claims process. 

Activities of Daily Living (ADLs): Defined

As defined by the National Cancer Institute, activities of daily living are “the tasks of everyday life.” Put another way, they are the tasks that we perform by second nature, often without much thought. Some of the most common examples of ADLs include: 

  • Getting dressed;
  • Bathing and grooming; 
  • Meal planning, cooking, and eating; 
  • Housekeeping and basic home maintenance; 
  • The ability to keep up with personal relationships; 
  • Managing finances; and
  • Other tasks necessary for day-to-day life. 

When a person struggles with ADLs, it is a sign that they need assistance. An injury, an illness, a disabling medical condition, or old age could undermine a person’s ability to perform activities of daily living without assistance. 

What to Know About ADLs and Social Security Disability Claims

A person who is disabled may be entitled to financial benefits through a Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claim or a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim. When you file for SSDI or SSI benefits the Social Security Administration (SSA) will generally seek some information regarding your ability to perform day-to-day tasks, including ADLs. Indeed, you will likely be asked to complete an ADL questionnaire (Function Report, SSA-3373). Here are some examples of questions that are asked on the SSA’s ADL questionnaire for disability claims: 

  • Describe what you do from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed?
  • Do you take care of pets? If so, describe how: 
  • Do you prepare your own meals? If so, describe what you do: 
  • What household chores are you able to perform?
  • How often do you go outside?
  • Do you do your own shopping? If so, describe how you shop and what you shop for: 

The SSA Will Evaluate ADL Questionnaire Answers for Consistency and Accuracy 

The ADL questionnaire is important. The SSA will take a close look at your answers to ensure that the information that you have provided is accurate and consistent with your disability status. To be clear, you can still qualify for benefits even if you can perform many (or all) activities of daily living. At the same time, information that suggests deception can be used against you to deny your claim. 

An attorney can help you complete this form or revise this form if you accidentally provided inaccurate information previously. If you have any specific questions or concerns about activities of daily living (ADLs) and your right to disability benefits, an experienced SSDI & SSI lawyer such as those at the Social Security Law Group can help you find the answer.