Prepare for your disability interview: tips from Social Security

man writing in wheelchairWhen a person becomes disabled, it can be a very stressful time in their life. There are many questions and unknowns when you have to transition out of the workforce due to medical issues. While an employer may offer short or long-term disability, most people faced with a disability will file for benefits with Social Security.

If you’re facing life with a disability and don’t know where to start, we encourage you to visit our website at www.socialsecurity.gov/disabilityssi. You can apply for benefits on our website; it’s the most convenient way. Additionally, you can contact us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or visit your local office if you wish to apply for disability benefits. When applying for benefits, you should be prepared to answer a number of questions including:

  • When your conditions became disabling:
    • Dates you last worked;
    • The names, addresses, phone numbers, and dates of visits to your doctors;
    • The names of medications that you take and medical tests you’ve had; and
    • Marital information.
  • In addition, if you plan on applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability payments, for people with low income who haven’t paid enough in Social Security taxes to be covered, we will ask you questions about:
    • Your current living arrangement, including who lives there and household expenses;
    • All sources of income for you and your spouse, if applicable; and
    • The amount of your resources, including bank account balances, vehicles, and other investments.

You can view our disability starter kit at www.socialsecurity.gov/disability/disability_starter_kits.htm.

Remember, we are there when you might be faced with one of the hardest obstacles of your life. Social Security helps secure today and tomorrow with critical benefits for people with severe disabilities, not just during retirement. Learn more at www.socialsecurity.gov.

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81 thoughts on “Prepare for your disability interview: tips from Social Security

  1. . Good INFO! . When is a good time to get an attorney? Especially when a man, age 59, educated, has not worked for 20 years d/t his physical/mental challenges, has been turned down several times before. He has a definitive and incurable physical illness which requires meds w/ side effects, developed at the least severe depression and possible Bi-Polar Type 2 (is mostly depressed, apathetic and never violent or paranoid). He has not had the ability to work because of the physical calamities happening to interrupt the process of even getting applications done and has affected communication skills. He has but 1 devoted friend to help him and friend has big financial/health limits but is committed to getting it done this time-it seems like the last chance before he is dead or a street person. He doesn’t have the skills to do that. The main disease is a rare genetic bone disease that is also progressive but not necessarily terminal. He is in a highly underserved location and a conservative state. There are no assets other than he’s a good guy and his friend was a good nurse, Can one get an attorney at the current attempt to apply but after you have been turned down before? By the way what are his chances -how long might he wait? He has fairly good documentation. Thanks, friend.

    • Thanks for your question. Many people handle their own applications and appeals. A representative familiar with Social Security’s programs can provide a valuable service. However, the decision whether or not to seek the services of a representative (attorney or other qualified person) is up to the applicant. More information about representatives can be found in our publication, “Your Right to Representation”.

      The length of time it takes to receive a decision on a disability claim can vary depending on several factors; primarily, the nature of the disability, how quickly we obtain medical evidence from doctors or other medical sources, and if the claim is randomly selected for a quality assurance review of the decision. We use the same five-step process to make a decision on each application.

      Some individuals may be eligible to receive additional assistance from the state where they live; while they wait for a final determination on their disability claim. These services include Medicaid, free meals, housekeeping help, transportation or help with other problems.

      You can get information about services in your area from your state or local social services office. You can also visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services web page for more information.

  2. I need a letter showing when I started getting disability. Could you please either email it to me our mail it to me.
    Susan Krank
    213 W 42nd st.
    Sioux Falls, SD 57105
    Thank you
    Susan Fay Krank

  3. My husband and I have been separated for years. He lived and took care of his parents until they passed away and eviction notice was issued. He used my address for mail on Feb 2018 and shows up every now and then to physically help me due to being disabled. We share no bank account, charge cards and house is in my name.. He gives me no money. I pay all my bills. How will this affect SSI? We filed for divorce years ago but never went through it when i got sick

  4. My daughter is 28 yrs. Old now when she was younger at the age of 12 she was diagnosed with depression and we took many hours of counseling and therapy she was doing well not perfect but well enough to be intelligent at what she put her mind to. Then she refused to take her medication or go to therapy. We tried alternative treatments but she struggled for years. She tried to commit suicide and developed some medical problems. Her father died when she was 23 and she got worse. She’s very impulsive and has trouble focussing on basicly common sense. So when she applied for SSDI and SSI she refused to complete the process. Finally she sought treatment again and was diagnosed with depression, anxiety and ocd. She’s better and applied for SSI. She never could work. But she was denied. Could she apply again under her fathers account since she’s been disabled all her life before age 18 and never will be stable enough to work. Now that I’m 70 I fear for her future.

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