“What do you do with yourself on an average day?” You can expect to hear this question from your Social Security disability judge. Does the judge expect you to testify that you spend your days moaning in pain, zonked out on pain medications and unable to dress yourself or prepare simple meals? Is it okay to state that you drive to the store or to pick up your kids from school?
At what point does normal daily activity start to look like a work equivalent, and thus result in a conclusion that you are not disabled?
My experience has been that if a judge rules against you, he will point to your testimony about daily activities as evidence that you do have the capacity to perform simple, entry-level work. This means that you need to think about how you will answer questions about your daily routine so that the judge understands how that routine is impacted by your medical condition.
I advise my clients to include limitations in their explanation of activities, for example:
“I do go to the grocery store but I only go when I know that the store won’t be crowded so I can get in and out quickly. I use the motorized cart to go up and down the aisles and I let the grocery bagger take my bags to the car. When I get home, my neighbor’s kids unload the bags and take it into my kitchen and they help put the groceries in the refrigerator or pantry.”
“I have to prepare my own meals but I do not cook anymore because last time I tried, I fell asleep and almost burned the house down. Now I make only cold sandwiches and whatever I can microwave.”