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Applying for Social Security Disability or SSI is stressful. Here, I will discuss what will happen when you are interviewed to get your Social Security Disability or SSI disability claim going. This page was originally written for North Carolina Disability claimants; however, since the SSD and SSI processes are national and standardized, this page also applies regardless of which state you live in.
SSA must identify you
At the start of the disability claim interview, the SSA representative will ask you to identify yourself. They will ask your name, SSN, your parent’s names, and likely these questions, such as the city were you born in, your mother‘s maiden name, and the address you provided for your appointment.
This information will allow Social Security will conclude that you are the individual making the claim.
Other identifying information
You will be asked general questions such as when did you last work, have you ever been married, were any of those marriages 10 years or more, do you have children under the age of 18, or do you have disabled adult children.
Social Security will also ask you about your education, meaning how far you went in school, and if you were in regular or special classes? They will also typically ask the name of the last school that you attended.
Note: be sure to accurately report your education background as this can have a strong influence on the outcome of your case. Individuals with lesser education, particularly if they are older with lower job skills, can find the path to approval easier.
Questions about Your work history
When it comes to vocational information, be sure to accurately report job titles and work work descriptions. This information can make the difference between an approval or denial. Many individuals are denied because SSA determines they can return to their past work, or do other work. So, do not understate the requirements of your individual jobs.
You will be asked about your work history, typically, for the last 15 years. The past 15 years is what Social Security considers the “relevant work period”. You should list the jobs you worked for a year or longer, as long as you worked them long enough to actually learn the requirements of them.
It is important that you provide Social Security with the following information: the titles of your past jobs, where you worked, what you did on each job, and the dates of employment. In most cases, Social Security will generally cover the last two or three jobs that you worked, but some individuals may have worked several different jobs, each lasting a year or longer during the past 15 years.
Social Security may ask you how many hours out of a typical workday you spent walking, sitting, standing, or climbing. Please give some thought to these answers beforehand, because when Social Security begins to work on your claim they will compare the requirements of your past jobs, as you explained them, to what they think you are CURRENTLY able to do.
Therefore, do not underreport the demands of your past work. On an initial disability application or reconsideration appeal, Social Security may deny you in one of two ways: on the basis that you can return to your past work, or on the basis that you can do some type of other work even if you cannot return to your past work. For this reason, it is very important that you ACCURATELY state the demands of your past work.
For the jobs that you worked, you will also be asked what is the heaviest weight that you lifted, and what is the most weight that you frequently lifted. Please give careful consideration to this beforehand. Many people on answering a question quickly, may not properly state the exertional requirements of their past work. Meaning that they may not immediately remember how much weight they actually had to lift, either occasionally or frequently, on a past job. You should not underreport the requirements of your past work for two reasons: first, it will not be an accurate reflection of your past work requirements, and, two, it will make it easier for Social Security to DENY you.
Questions about Your medical conditions and medical treatment, including medications
When it comes to your medical conditions, you should list every single medical condition that you have, regardless of whether or not you are currently being treated for it. Some individuals will only list the medical conditions that they are currently being treated for, or only list the medical conditions they think makes them disabled.
However, remember that Social Security takes every medical condition you report into consideration and so you should list every single one of them.
You should also list conditions that you have not been treated for, for example, depression, because Social Security will then be able to consider them. And even if you have not been treated, you may be sent to a consultative examination that they will schedule and pay for.
Listing everything that is wrong with you, and which affects your daily activities and ability to work, is extremely important. By the same token, listing every single doctor that you have been seen by and who has provided you treatment is likewise important. Many people will not realize this, but Social Security will only seek medical records from the doctors you tell them about. They have no magic way of knowing about doctors that you have seen but not told them about.
When you provide your list of doctors to Social Security, make sure you include the names of physicians, the name of the practice, and the dates of treatment. Ideally, you would also provide the addresses and phone numbers if you have that information. Once you provide this information to Social Security, they are obligated to make the attempt to obtain your records from each source.
Social Security will also ask you about your current medications. So it is always best to have that either written down before the interview, just as you would have your list of treatment sources and your list of jobs written down before the application. However, when it comes to your medication, it may be simpler to simply have your pill bottles with you when they call.
These are the questions that get asked on a disability application interview with Social Security.
However, if your claim is for SSI concurrently, or SSI alone, the following topic areas will be addressed: your resources, meaning your countable assets, and this includes the vehicles you own other than the one you drive, Real property other than the home that you live in, how much money you have in checking or savings accounts above the amount that you use for bills, the cash value of insurance policies, and other potential assets, such as extra burial plots.
For an SSI claim, the Social Security representative will also ask you about income and this is differentiated from whether or not you are actually currently working and receiving earned income. Social Security, in this case, would be asking you about other sources of income aside from earned income, and this would include the income of your spouse which would be taken into account since Social Security is a need based program and spousal income and resources are considered.