The Social Security Disability Interview

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

When an applicant files an application for Social Security disability or SSI disability benefits, the local Social Security office will typically do one of two things: set up a time to conduct an application interview at the Social Security office or set up a time to conduct a phone interview at a later date.

What Happens During the Interview?

The interview normally takes about an hour, provided you have prepared in advance by gathering your past work and medical histories. The important thing to remember about the interview is that it is basically a fact-finding process, and no decision regarding your claim is made at this time. A claims representative (CR) from the Social Security office will conduct the disability interview, and 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 nature of your medical condition, and what medical treatment you have received for your disability in the past twelve months. The CR will also want to know non-medical information, such as your marital status, number of children, past military service, and if you are receiving or have received workers' compensation for your injury(s).

How to Prepare

You can help your initial interview go smoothly by being prepared with the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all places (including doctor's offices, hospitals, or emergency rooms) at which you have received medical care for your disability within the past twelve months. Likewise, you should have the contact information available for all past employment supervisors, including addresses and phone numbers. 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 do not receive it in time, write it out on a sheet of paper in a clear, organized fashion. This will allow the CR to process your information more quickly, so that the claims rep can forward it to the state agency that makes disability claims decisions, commonly called Disability Determination Services (DDS), although the name of the agency can vary from state to state.

Phone Interviews

For many claimants, particularly those with transportation problems, or for whom getting to the Social Security office involves a very long trip, a phone interview may be the best option. What happens when your interview is conducted via phone interview? A Social Security claims rep will call you at a specific time on a specific date. To prepare for this phone interview, you should be at your phone at the right time and have certain information available for the rep, such as your various disabling conditions, when your disability began, when you were no longer able to work as a result of your condition, and the name and contact information of all of your doctors.

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