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

  1. Hi Ray, I have been disabled since 2003, legally blind, and in 2016 October when I reached FRA my disablity payment was LOWERED! Can you tell me why this happened? Thanks in advance for your time, adios

    • Hi Joe. Social Security disability benefits automatically change to retirement benefits when disability beneficiaries attain their full retirement age (Currently 66). Benefits are not interrupted with this transition and the benefit amount will generally remains the same. For security reasons, we do not have access to your personal records via this blog and are unable to answer your question at this time. We encourage you to contact your local Social Security office or call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. for further assistance and a thorough explanation. Thanks!

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  3. I am 59 years old and currently collecting disability, however considering a trial basis to work. My question is this, if I am able to continue work until full retirement age, will my retirement rate be higher than my current disability rate?

    • Hello TJ. Great question! Generally, if you continue to work while receiving disability benefits, your monthly benefit amount may increase. Each year, we review the records for all working Social Security recipients to see if additional earnings from working may increase monthly benefits. In addition, when someone is receiving Social Security disability benefits, there are special rules to consider that could help with working and not jeopardizing your disability benefits. Go to Can I return to work while getting Social Security disability benefits? for more details.

  4. Hello-
    Can you ever lose previously earned credits? If you decide to quit working for an extended time then later rejoin the workforce, are those previous credits lost where you have to start rebuilding credits toward 40 credits for disability or retirement?
    Thank you

    • Thanks for your question, RJ! We base Social Security credits on the amount of your earnings. We use your earnings and work history to determine your eligibility for Social Security benefits. The credits you earn remain on your Social Security record even if you stop working and have no earnings for a while. You cannot lose your earned credits. See our Benefit Planner: Social Security Credits for more information. Thanks!

    • RJ.,
      I think your question that Jenna Yeager, Public Affairs Specialist expertly side stepped was in reference to the work credits that magically don’t count should you not work for 10 years and 1 day before you file for your disability coverage OR even better reapply because of denial left un appealed, then they counted now they don’t (40 credits, gone), you can ONLY earn a MAX. of 4 work credits yearly, NOT BASED on earnings as erroneously reported by the “specialist”.

  5. I just want the yearly statement that use to get mailed home of Social Security amount at retirement for me and what would my disability amount would be now. date of birth May 30, 1966 last four digits of SS# 7657

  6. I like how you said it to provide the dates you last worked in your disability interview. I haven’t worked since the day of my accident. Thank you for the tips on private disability insurance.

  7. I am thinking of applying for disability for myself. I was in an accident and had to go to hospital . With the tests they took I found out I had serious desease I never knew.

    • Hi Mary. We pay disability benefits through two programs: the Social Security Disability Insurance program (SSDI) and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. To qualify for SSDI benefits, you must have worked long enough and recently enough in jobs covered by Social Security (usually within the last 10 years). The (SSI) program is a needs based program that gives cash assistance to disabled individuals with limited income and resources. We pay disability benefits to people who are unable to work because of a medical condition that is expected to last one year or more or to end in death. If you think you may be eligible to receive disability benefits and would like to apply, you can use our online application.

      Applying online for disability benefits offers several advantages:
      • You can start your disability claim immediately. There is no need to wait for an appointment.
      • You can apply from the convenience of your home, or on any computer; and
      • You can avoid trips to a Social Security office, saving you time and money.

      If you are unable to file online, please call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday to make an appointment. For more information visit our “Frequently Asked Questions” web page on disability. Thanks!

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