Hearing Questions: What does your “average day” look like?

Help! I have a Disability Hearing!

Describe your average day.

“What do you do all day?” MANY people with disabilities answer “nothing.” But, this is usually not a sufficient answer. It is impossible to do “nothing” all day.

Do you sleep all day? Do you stare at a wall? Do you count ceiling tiles? Do you spend hours sitting, standing, laying down, and continually shifting positions to try and alleviate pain or pressure?

Start from the beginning.

It is usually easiest to describe your day by starting with your morning.

What time do you wake up? Do you get up, then? Do you have coffee, eat breakfast, check your facebook? Do you shower everyday? Do you get dressed everyday?

There are countless different ways these questions could be answered. For example:

  • “I am usually awake by 4:00am, because I am hurting too much to sleep. I toss and turn until about 5:00, then I get up and turn on the coffee pot.”
  • “I wake up at 7:00 to make sure the kids have gotten themselves dressed and ready for school. Once they are out the door, I go back to bed until about 1:00pm.”
  • “I wake up when my spouse leaves for work. I shower, have some coffee, then head to physical therapy.”

What next?

Think through your day, today. Did you lie on the couch, with a heating pad under your back? Did you watch TV, play games, or talk on the phone? Did you sleep most of the day? Do you cook, clean, and care for children?

Please keep in mind that most older kids are pretty self-sufficient, so carefully describe how much “care” you provide to your family. Many people who care for the home and kids are found “not-disabled.” Details matter.

Just as above, there are so many possible answers. Here are a few examples:

  • “After my morning coffee, I stay in my pajamas and watch the birds through the window. I lay on the couch and nap off and on throughout the day. I usually have a heating pad under my back, and take pain killers. I try to shower, every few days, but I cannot reach up to wash my hair properly. The whole act of getting undressed and showering takes so much out of me, that I will usually take another pain pill and nap, afterwards. I will eat if easy food is available, like a granola bar or yogurt. Otherwise, I skip meals until my spouse gets home and makes dinner.”
  • “I sleep all day, while the kids are in school. Sometimes, I’ll shower and dress, but mostly, I just don’t care enough to do those things. When the kids get home from school, they make themselves a snack and we watch tv together.”
  • “I spend the much of each day at a medical appointment of some sort – physical therapy, pain management, dialysis.”

What do evenings look like?

Do you prepare meals for yourself and/or your family? Do you help children with homework? Do you help care for pets?

Some examples of evening activities:

  • “I keep my husband company while he prepares dinner. Sometimes, I will chop vegetables or load the top rack of the dishwasher, but I can only stand for 5-10 minutes at a time before I have to lie down on my heating pad. After dinner, we watch TV together, then go to bed around 10:00pm. I toss and turn all night, trying to get comfortable.”
  • “The kids do their homework, and don’t need much help. I make a frozen pizza or mac n cheese for dinner. Sometimes, we have sandwiches or cereal for dinner. The kids take their showers and get themselves ready for bed. They pick out their clothes for the next morning, and make their lunches for the next day. If I feel up to it, I will read to them or have them read to me, before bed. After they go to bed, I lie on the couch and watch Netflix until about 4:00am.”
  • “I usually grab fast food or microwave a frozen dinner. I am exhausted and in bed by 8:00pm.”

Who takes care of the household?

The judge will want to know who does the cooking, cleaning, child care, yard work, bill paying, and other ordinary household chores. If you are able to do these things, why can’t you work? If these are not a part of your daily routine, how are they managed? Does someone else do them? Are they NOT done at all?

What has changed?

This is a good opportunity for you to describe how your current daily activities are different than they were before you became disabled.

Did you use to shower everyday and take great care in your appearance? But now, you struggle to get in the shower occasionally, and only dress in easy-to-manage clothes?

What kind of hobbies did you use to enjoy, but can no longer do? Hunting, fishing, hiking, sewing, shopping, cooking, traveling, spending time with friends?

How have your eating and sleeping habits changed?

Which of your daily activities are the most challenging for you?

Every case is different. Every person experiences pain and other symptoms, differently. You will probably be asked some of the questions above, but not all of them. You may also be asked some different questions, depending on what your symptoms are.

If you need help describing your daily activities, be sure to talk to your lawyer, get an opinion letter from your doctor, or a witness letter from a friend or family member.

More articles in the “Help! I have a Disability Hearing!” series:

If we have not answered your questions about what to expect at your disability hearing, please keep checking back! Or, leave your question in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Best wishes on your upcoming hearing!

Originally published: November 14, 2017

 Last updated: November 14, 2017 at 8:14 am


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