How to Fill Out the Third-Party Function Report Step-by-Step
December 11, 2023 · 6 min read
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If the Social Security Administration or Disability Determination Services requests a third-party function report, and you are completing the form on an applicant’s behalf, it is important to provide clear, honest, and consistent information.
Learn more about how to fill out a third-party function report step-by-step, plus tips and example answers for each section.
What is the Third-Party Function Report?
The Social Security Administration’s Third-Party Function Report (Form SSA-3380-BK) is a form to gather information about an applicant’s condition and how it affects their daily functioning. Typically, someone who can speak to the claimant’s condition completes the form, like a family member, caregiver, or former co-worker.
This 10-page form has questions about the applicant’s daily activities, like house chores, personal care, and social functioning. The third-party function report is not a mandatory part of the application, but Disability Determination Services sometimes requests it for specific cases.
Third-Party Function Report vs. Function Report: what’s the difference?
The third-party function report and the function report are both forms to gather information about how the applicant’s condition affects their ability to work and complete daily tasks. A third party, like a caregiver or close friend, completes the third-party function report and provides information about the applicant’s disability. A function report, on the other hand, is a form for the applicant to fill out themselves.
Who should use the Third-Party Function Report?
Most people don’t need to fill out the third-party function report. The main reason to use it is if the person applying can’t complete the application on their own. The third-party function report would be useful for:
A friend or family member applying for someone with a cognitive disability, who doesn’t have the reading or writing skills to fill it out themselves
A child applying for an adult-dependent, like an elderly parent, who doesn’t have the fine motor skills to write or type
Who shouldn’t use the Third-Party Function Report?
This form isn’t a mandatory part of your application. There’s no need to complete it unless the SSA specifically requests it, or you can’t fill out the main function report yourself. Instead, if you want to bolster your application with extra proof, include more medical documentation. A disability lawyer can guide you on what to include.
Don’t have a friend or family member fill it out in addition to your main function report — even if you think they have valuable perspectives to share. Including the third-party report when you don’t need to can harm your application in unexpected ways:
The person completing it might include small details that contradict your application, like “they usually have to leave social engagements early” when you shared that you “are rarely able to socialize”
If circumstances change between the applicant and the third party, they might no longer be incentivized to give helpful answers should the SSA contact them
If their answers are too similar to yours, the SSA could accuse you of collaborating with a third party on the report, which is against the rules
The bottom line? Don’t use the third-party function report as extra, supplemental material. Typically, you’d only use this report instead of the main function report — or if the SSA specifically asks you for it.
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5 Tips on filling out the Third-party Function Report
To improve the chances of success, consider the following tips when completing the Third-party Function Report:
Review the claimant’s application materials. Before answering questions on the form, look over the applicant’s entire disability application. The SSA will compare answers from different parts of the application, so it is important the information is consistent throughout and avoids contradictions.
Start with question 23. This is a longer, comprehensive question that you can use as a guideline when you’re filling out the rest of the answers.
Describe the applicant’s worst or average days. When describing the applicant’s limitations, use examples from their worst days, not the days when they function better. The form should highlight how the applicant’s disability negatively impacts their daily life, not about how they’ve managed to succeed and thrive despite it.
Focus on the details. You probably care about the person you’re describing in this form and might want to describe their strength, character, or how deserving they are of help. Buthold back from doing that in the third-party function report, no matter how tempting.
Add information to the Remarks section. The third-party function report features a section at the end for any additional information you were unable to fit into earlier sections. Use this space to mention caretaking tasks, limitations, symptoms, and more.
How to fill out the Third-Party Function Report (SSA-3380) section-by-section
The third-party function report includes checkboxes and space for written-in answers. Before you download the third-party function report on ssa.gov, read below to understand expectations and examples for each section:
Section A — General information
In Section A, you will provide your name, contact information, and relation to the applicant. The SSA needs this basic information to process and monitor the application.
Section B — Information about illnesses, injuries, or conditions
Give the SSA a brief description of the applicant’s conditions and symptoms. Explain exactly how they manifest, and how that prevents them from working.
Only list conditions that limit their ability to work
Only list conditions that have been diagnosed
Only list conditions they are being actively treated for
Section C — Information about daily activities
Section C is very detailed, and is meant to give the SSA a full, comprehensive picture of how the applicant copes with the physical and mental demands of daily life.
Describe symptoms on their worst or average days
Describe how they’ve had to modify activities
Be specific, concise, and very clear about their limitations
“They take their dog outside for 10 minutes to go to the bathroom,” not “They walk their dog every day”
“They heat a microwave meal for dinner,” not “They make dinner at 5 pm”
“They can only wear clothing without buttons or laces,” not “They can dress themselves independently”
“They only shop at the convenience store near their home, because they will get lost if they go more than a few blocks away,” not “They do their own shopping most of the time”
For this question, give a brief list of the applicant’s usual daily schedule or activities. The SSA needs to know about things the applicant did to manage their condition. In a normal conversation, these wouldn’t be worth mentioning — but they’re important to proving the applicant’s limitations.
Be sure to include information that relates to their condition. For example, if the applicant has extreme fatigue as a symptom of a medical condition and naps for three hours each afternoon, include that in your response.
These questions address the applicant’s caretaking responsibilities for children, dependents, and pets. This section can be difficult — the applicant might not want to admit their inability to care for others as well as they would like.
However, the SSA does not judge the applicant’s caretaking skills. Unless you explicitly describe something that’s neglect, such as failing to feed or bathe a child for extended periods, there is no possibility of your answers causing an investigation.
Moreover, avoid giving the impression that the applicant spends all day taking care of others and is unable to work due to their caretaking responsibilities.
They change their toddler’s diaper a few times a day and feed her baby food. They typically spend 5-6 hours a day watching TV while she sits in her playpen.
They are at home most of the day with their elderly mother. Their husband bathes their daughter and prepares dinner every day when he gets home from work.
This question aims to understand the applicant's abilities before their illness, injury, or medical condition. Your answer to this question should reinforce your earlier answers.
Most of the abilities you list here should relate to work, but you can mention any relevant details to the applicant’s personal life.
They used to work construction, but can no longer lift and move heavy objects.
They used to work on a computer, but looking at screens triggers their migraines.
They used to take their children to the park every day, but can no longer walk comfortably enough to do so.
This question is about how the applicant’s illnesses, injuries, or conditions might affect their sleep. It’s important to keep the response disability-specific. For example, if they have trouble sleeping because they worry about money, or they’re restless from being stuck in the house, that’s valid, but irrelevant here.
These questions pertain to the applicant’s personal care routine. For many applicants, this section can feel very personal, and even embarrassing.
If the applicant can’t take care of basic personal care tasks like hygiene or feeding themselves, they might be uncomfortable talking about it.
It’s a good idea to talk to the applicant about your answers in this section. Make sure your answers reflect reality, not your assumptions, or what they might want friends and family to think.
These questions help assess the applicant’s physical abilities like lifting and walking, as well as some cognitive abilities like paying for purchases and navigating errands and trips.
Only mention limitations caused by their disability. If they can’t drive because of back pain, that’s relevant, but if they don’t run errands because they don’t have access to a car, do not include that information.
They can do some shopping with a motorized cart
They are unable to drive because of severe back pain
They sometimes mow the lawn with a rideable mower
This finance question is a common source of confusion for applicants and the third party completing the form. The SSA wants to know if the applicant has the cognitive ability to pay bills and manage their finances.
Do they need to use autopay to pay their bills?
Does someone else need access to their bank accounts (like a family member) to make sure things get paid on time?
These questions are about the applicant’s hobbies and activities. Be sure these answers don’t contradict how you’ve described the applicant’s abilities elsewhere. If it seems like they have more capacity for hobbies and leisure than for work, that will hurt their credibility. In this question, focus on how they can’t enjoy certain hobbies any longer.
“Spending time with others” does not include spending time with whom the applicant lives
Don’t list that the applicant enjoys reading, but can’t use a computer for work
Don’t list that the applicant socializes with others in person, but can’t go out in public to shop
Section D — Information about abilities
In this section, you’ll describe how the applicant’s disability affects them in clear, simple terms.
We recommend starting with this question. Then, you can refer back to it as you complete the rest of the report.
Here, the SSA asks questions about how the applicant’s condition affects their physical and cognitive abilities. You might answer questions about:
Hearing and vision
How long you can pay attention
Unusual behaviors and fears (like tics or compulsive behaviors)
Carefully assess your answers for accuracy. Then, use it as a guide as you complete the rest of the form. As you write your other answers, you can make sure they line up with the abilities listed here.
Ideally, medical devices listed here should be prescribed by a doctor. If it’s a solution they found on their own, it’s better if the aid was at least signed off on or endorsed by a doctor, so that it’s mentioned in their medical record. Be sure to mention when and why the applicant needs these medical aids and devices.
Here, the SSA is investigating if any of the side effects of the applicant’s treatment contribute to their inability to work. The SSA is less likely to consider side effects part of a disability, but they are important to mention. List the medications the applicant uses for their medical condition and include side effects only if they prevent the applicant from working.
Section E — Remarks
Use this section for answers you didn’t have enough space for, like the questions about caretaking or additional symptoms. You might not need to complete Section E at all. In that case, write “none,” “no remarks,” or “N/A,” rather than leaving it blank.
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Jackie Jakab is Atticus’s Legal Director. She’s a licensed attorney, a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, and has counseled thousands of people seeking disability benefits.
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