The Disability Interview Demystified.
When you apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) or Supplemental Security Income benefits (“SSI”) (collectively, “disability benefits”), one of the first things the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) will do as part of its screening process is to conduct an interview with you. This interview, is commonly referred to as the “disability interview.”
Because it comes so early in the disability application process, many people do not hire counsel and do nothing to prepare for this interview.
This can be a mistake.
Once you understand how difficult it is to be awarded disability benefits, you will understand that the disability interview is a very important part of the process. You will also understand why you should prepare for it just as if you were testifying at a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”).
The Who and What of the Disability Interview
Disability interviews are generally conducted over the phone by a disability examiner. They can also be conducted at the local SSA Field Offices or at the offices of the “Disability Determination Services” (“DDS”), but most often they are conducted by phone.
From the SSA’s perspective, the purpose of the disability interview is to investigate disability claims and “screen” applications. This means that the people conducting disability interviews are looking for reasons to deny an application. As a result, it is important for you to be fully prepared for the interview you can present your situation clearly.
Because the disability examiner is looking for information and evidence to determine whether or not you are “disabled” within the parameters the SSA sets for determining “disability,” he (or she) will be trying to find out all he can about your condition(s) and how it prevents you from working full-time or long enough to support yourself. This means that the disability examiner will be asking you a lot of questions about your condition(s), your work and work history (if you are applying for SSDI), your family, your living situation, your income and that of your spouse and other family members (if you are applying for SSI) and what you can and cannot do on any given day.
These are many of the same questions that an Administrative Law Judge may ask you if you go to hearing.
Before the phone call, make sure you are rested and have thought about the questions you may be asked. Describe clearly how your disability or condition limits you in performing everyday tasks and how it affects you at work. Don’t exaggerate, but don’t downplay your struggles or any pain you may have. Also, have all the information you will need like the names, addresses, and phone numbers of your treating physicians and all hospitals you may have gone to. Be able to provide the disability examiner with non-medical information such as important dates (for things like your marriage, or divorce if applicable) names of spouses, former spouses, your children, and any military service.
Being prepared will help your interview go well and may increase your chances of attaining a favorable outcome.
Experienced Social Security Disability Counsel Here for You.
If you are applying for SSDI or SSI, contact us. We can help you get the benefits you deserve. We offer free consultations and we do not get paid unless you win your case. Call us at: (225) 200-0000 or email us here.