The Social Security Disability Interview

When you apply for SSDI or SSI disability benefits, Social Security conducts an interview in person or by phone.

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When an applicant files an application for Social Security disability or SSI disability benefits, the local Social Security office will want to gather more information from you. A claims representative will usually call you to do one of two things: set up a time to conduct an SSDI interview at the Social Security office or set up a time to conduct a telephone interview at a later date.

You don't want to miss this interview, as it's your first chance to prove that your medical condition is severe enough to prevent you from working.

Can I Do a Phone Interview With Social Security?

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Social Security is limiting in-person services, so it's more likely that your disability interview will be conducted over the phone, rather than in person. Being able to answer questions over the phone can be a great benefit to claimants, who previously may have been required to make a long trip to the Social Security office.

A Social Security claims rep will contact you to schedule your phone interview for a specific date and time. You should prepare for the phone appointment at the specified date and time, and be near your phone in a quiet area.

What Happens During a Disability Claim Interview?

A claims representative from the Social Security office will conduct the disability interview and will ask you a series of questions, such as where you have worked in the past 15 years and what duties you performed for each job.

The interview normally takes about an hour, provided you've prepared in advance by gathering your past work and medical histories. The important thing to remember about the SSDI or SSI interview is that it's basically a fact-finding process, and no decision regarding your claim will be made at the time of the interview.

Social Security Interview Questions

Here is the series of interview questions the Social Security claims rep will ask you, starting with your basic information and ending with your direct deposit details.

General Information

  • What is your current name and any previous names you've used?
  • What is your Social Security number?
  • What is the highest level of education you've completed?
  • What are the names and dates of birth of your spouse and any children under the age of 18?

Medical History

  • When did your medical condition become so severe that you weren't able to work anymore?
  • What doctor treats you for your disabling medical condition?
  • What is the doctor's contact information?
  • When did you start getting treatment for your disabling medical condition?
  • What kind of tests have you had (X-rays, MRIs)?
  • Have you had any emergency room visits or hospitalizations?
  • What kind of treatment have you had (therapy, steroid injections)?
  • What medications (including dosage) are you taking?

Work History

  • When is the last time you worked?
  • What job title(s) did you have during the last 15 years?
  • What were the dates of employment for those jobs?
  • What is the contact information for your employers over the last 15 years?

Bank and Contact Details

  • If you'd like to receive your disability payments by direct deposit, what is the name of your bank, your account number, and your routing number?
  • Who can Social Security contact if they can't reach you? What is their contact information?

SSI Interview Questions

If you're applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security will also ask the following:

  • What is your living situation?
  • Who lives with you?
  • What sources of income do you have?
  • What sources of income does your spouse have, if you're married?
  • What is the balance of your bank account(s)?
  • Do you own any vehicles?

How Can I Prepare for the Disability Interview?

You can help your initial interview go smoothly by being prepared with the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all the places you've received medical care for your disability within the past twelve months (including doctor's offices, hospitals, or emergency rooms).

You should also have the contact information available for all past employment supervisors, including business addresses and phone numbers. In addition, you should figure out the approximate start and end dates for each job that you worked in the last 15 years. It helps to write all of this down so you have it right in front of you during the interview.

Social Security should send you a form to fill out beforehand, but if you don't receive it in time, write your information out on a sheet of paper in a clear, organized fashion. This will allow the claims rep to process your information more quickly, so that the field office rep can forward it to the state agency that makes disability claims decisions. This agency is commonly called Disability Determination Services (DDS), but the name of the agency can vary from state to state.

What Happens After the Disability Interview?

Once you've completed your disability interview, the claims rep will review your non-medical eligibility requirements, which include:

  • age
  • employment history
  • marital status
  • citizenship
  • residency
  • Social Security coverage information, and
  • income and asset verification.

(For more information on these requirements, please see our articles about the non-medical eligibility requirements for SSDI and non-medical eligibility requirements for SSI.)

    Next, the claims rep will submit your claim to a disability claims examiner at Disability Determination Services (DDS) to evaluate your claim for disability. To learn about the next steps, please see our article about what happens at DDS.

    Updated February 7, 2022

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