When you file an application for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) 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:
Your disability interview is a critical part of your claim because it's your first chance to prove that your medical condition is severe enough to prevent you from working. Here's what you need to know to prepare for your Social Security disability interview, including the questions you should expect.
When you have an appointment for an in-person disability interview, you'll meet with a claims representative at your local Social Security office. This is an important meeting, so you'll want to arrive a few minutes early. Punctuality shows respect to the representative you're meeting.
It's okay to dress comfortably, but you should choose modest clothing that's neat and clean. You don't want your appearance to be a distraction.
What should you bring with you? Bring any medical records you have and other documents you'll need to answer the Social Security rep's questions (see below). But if possible, don't bring your children. Children can be distracting, and if you're able to care well for your children during the interview, you might give the impression that you're not really disabled.
Some disability interviews are conducted by phone, rather than in person. Being able to answer questions over the phone can be a great benefit to you, especially if an in-person interview would mean making 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 and be near your phone in a quiet area at the specified date and time.
If your Social Security interview will be conducted by phone, you'll want to prepare for it just as you would for an in-person interview. Here are some tips to help you get ready.
Whether your disability interview is in person or by phone, a claims representative from the Social Security office will ask you a series of questions. You'll need to answer questions about your medical condition and other things like where you've 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—no decision on your claim will be made at the time of the interview.
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.
If you're applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security will also ask the following:
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:
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. If you don't receive it in time, write your information out on a sheet of paper in a clear, organized fashion.
Having this information written down will allow the Social Security rep to process your information more quickly so that the field office rep can forward it to the state agency that'll decide your claim. This agency is commonly called Disability Determination Services (DDS), but the name can vary from state to state.
Once you've completed your disability interview, the claims rep will review your non-medical eligibility requirements, which include your:
Next, the claims rep will submit your claim to a disability claims examiner at your state's DDS office who will make the initial decision on your claim. To learn more about the next steps in the determination process, see our article about what happens at DDS.
Updated April 21, 2023