Activities of Daily Living

When you submit an application for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) wants to know to what extent your medical or psychological condition affects your ability to perform everyday activities. Everyday activities are referenced by the SSA in all their documentation and forms as “activities of daily living”. It is also commonly abbreviated as simple ADLs.

Essentially, the SSA reviews the details of your daily activities in order to determine how severe your condition is and whether it results in substantial impairment. When reviewing activities of daily living, the SSA will want to know specific details, including, but not always limited to:

  • What your average day consists of, or what you do from the time you wake in the morning until you go to bed at night.
  • Whether or not you drive or are able to operate a vehicle.
  • What household chores and other tasks and errands you’re able to perform.
  • If you prepare your own food or, if not, how you obtain your meals.
  • What interests and/or hobbies you actively pursue or participate in.
  • If you’re able to bathe, and use the bathroom on your own, or if you require assistance.
  • Whether or not you can dress and groom yourself, of if your need help in doing so.
  • The impact of your condition on your sleep patterns, quality of sleep, etc.
  • How your condition affects your ability to perform unskilled or skilled work.

The ADL evaluation is an important part of the SSD determination for any impairment, and must be disclosed as part of the SSD application process on the Activities of Daily Living (ADL) Questionnaire. Because the SSA considers so many aspects of your activities of daily living in the evaluation of eligibility for SSD benefits, it’s critical that you’re as detailed as possible in your description and disclosure of how your condition affects all aspects your life.