When you apply for disability at the initial and reconsideration process, Social Security will ask you for a third-party contact that knows you and knows about your conditions that can provide information to them about you. They will then be sent form SSA-3380 Third-Party Function Report. This is a 10-page report that has check-the-box and fill-in-the-blank spaces for answers. This report is your opportunity to have a witness on your behalf provide written testimony to Social Security about your daily life and their observations. It is very important that this form gets filled out and returned to timely, as it will be used in making a determination in your claim.
DO select a person who knows you well. Someone who can write from personal knowledge, describing your disabilities, the difficulties they have observed you have with physical activities and the things they help you with is the best choice for completing this form.
DO select a person who will take the time to fill this form out completely, thoughtfully, and timely. It typically takes 1-2 hours to fill this form out in its entirety, therefore, it is important that the person filling out this form on your behalf be willing to dedicate the time necessary to do so.
DO select a person that will tell the truth. Make sure that the third-party function report is consistent with your function report. If you are able to grocery shop or prepare meals and your third-party says that you are not, it is inconsistent and not a credible source of information.
DO describe observations of difficulties with understanding and applying information, concentration, responding appropriately to others, forgetfulness, quick temper, avoiding people, crying spells, or poor stress tolerance. These are often good measures of how much pain a person has.
DO provide relevant examples and detailed answers. These forms do not allow for much space to write. There is an additional blank space on the form called “Remarks” where your witness can add additional comments, or they can add additional pieces of paper to the form.
DON’T play on sympathy. This witness statement is to gather facts and information, not a plea for emotion. The determination will be made based on your medical condition only.
DON’T talk about your inability to get a job. Whether or not you able to find work is not the issue and has no bearing on whether you will receive disability benefits.
DON’T make comparisons to others who seem less disabled but have received disability benefits.
DON’T talk about the law involved or any of those issues. While it might be tempting to point out the rules, the third-party witness statement is not the place to do it.
These forms are overwhelming and confusing. If they are not completed properly and timely, Social Security can deny your claim for not cooperating. Don’t risk it! The best way to ensure that you receive benefits is to have the help of an expert. I am paid on a contingency basis and am always available for consultations. You can email me for help at email@example.com for any questions you might have or call at 503-908-1702.