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What to Expect at Your Social Security Disability Interview

Gordon, Wolf & Carney June 7, 2023

For many individuals, the disability interview is one of the most daunting steps in the process when applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Understandably, the Social Security disability interview is a stressful experience because it’s one of the first opportunities you have to prove that your disability is affecting your ability to work. The odds may seem stacked against you: for example, over the past ten years, the SSA has denied an average of 67% of disability claims. However, by learning how to prepare for your Social Security disability interview, you can reduce your stress level and potentially increase your chances of getting approved. 

At Gordon, Wolf & Carney, we’re able to represent clients nationwide from our home office in Towson, Maryland. Reach out to our Social Security disability benefits attorneys today to get started. 

The Social Security Interview

When you file a Social Security disability claim, you’ll be contacted by a representative from the SSA to schedule an interview. This can either be done in person at a Social Security field office or over the phone. No matter where your interview takes place, you should take the time now to educate yourself about what information the SSA hopes to get and what you can expect in general. 

What happens at a Social Security disability interview? 

The purpose of a Social Security disability interview is for a claims representative to gather as much information as they can that will help them out in their determination. This is not meant to be a “gotcha” interview where they’re trying to disprove your claim, so you don’t have to worry about being asked any leading or trick questions. Even so, people can be quite nervous both before and during the interview because they know their potential benefits can depend on how they answer. That said, the interviewer will not be making a decision during your interview. This is merely a time to collect information to use in the next steps of the evaluation process to determine if you have a qualifying disability.  

What to expect at the interview

Most interviews last about an hour, regardless if they happen in person or over the phone. These interviews may feel a bit like a job interview. The interviewer will ask you questions about basic personal information, your disability and medical history, your employment history over the last 15 years, your job duties, other sources of income, your household, and other resources you have access to. 

Preparing for the Interview

Steps to take 

  • Organize your information: Make sure you not only have copies of all the information they’ll need, but also that you’re familiar with this information and can answer questions knowledgeably. For example, try to familiarize yourself with doctor’s names, employer names, dates of employment, and a basic timeline of your disability. 

  • Answer honestly: Never embellish the facts or mislead the interviewer about your medical condition or how it’s affecting you. If you truly do have a disability that’s preventing you from working, this will become evident when answering truthfully. At the same time, don’t downplay your condition.    

  • Don’t volunteer information: Only answer the questions you are asked and resist the urge to add further information. This could negatively affect your claim. 

  • Hire a lawyer: Working with a Social Security disability benefits attorney can be incredibly helpful during this time. Many people find the entire process is made much easier by having trusted legal guidance with them. An experienced lawyer will have worked with many clients in your exact same situation and will be able to give you first-hand advice and counsel. 

Sample questions

General Information: 

  • What is your name? 

  • Where do you live? 

  • What’s the highest level of education you’ve completed? 

Employment History: 

  • What jobs have you held in the last 15 years? 

  • What were your duties at your previous job? 

  • What are the names of your employers and their contact information? 

Medical History:  

  • When were you first diagnosed with your disability? 

  • What kind of treatment or medications have you had? 

  • When did your medical condition first interfere with your ability to work? 

What to bring to a Social Security disability interview

  • Medical records 

  • Your ID and birth certificate 

  • Names, addresses, and phone numbers of medical providers and past employers 

  • A list of any medications you’re taking   

  • Workers’ compensation information 

  • Personal info including names and dates of birth for minor children, and dates of marriages and divorces 

After the Interview

After the interview, the representative will review some basic information with you, and then submit your claim to the disability claims examiner at your state office. Even after the interview is complete, it can still take several months to receive your determination. 

Be Prepared for Anything

For experienced legal help preparing for a Social Security disability interview, reach out to our firm at Gordon, Wolf & Carney located in Towson, Maryland. We are honored to serve clients across the country.