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.
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 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 claims representative will also ask you questions about the nature of your medical condition(s), the doctors you have seen, and what medical treatment you have received for your disability in the past twelve months. The claims rep will want to know all medication you're taking for your condition(s), including the dosage and the doctor who prescribed the medication.
The claims rep 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 medical condition.
The interview normally takes about an hour, provided you have prepared in advance by gathering your past work and medical histories.
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 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 do not receive it in time, write this 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, commonly called Disability Determination Services (DDS), although the name of the agency can vary from state to state.
For many claimants, particularly those with transportation problems, or for whom getting to the Social Security office involves a long trip, a phone interview may be the best option. What happens when your interview is conducted via a 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 the same information available for the rep as mentioned above. Do not miss this interview, as it is your first chance to prove that your medical condition is severe enough to prevent you from working.