Applying for Social Security benefits can be a daunting task for many people. The Social Security administrator will typically have several pages of questions to be asked. And if you are answering on behalf of another person (a dependent or other person who is unable to answer for himself), you are faced with the difficulty of answering questions correctly.
Things You'll Need
- Social Security number
- Doctors' names
- Medical history
- Work history
- Accident and illness information
- Birth Certificate
The first rule to remember when you are attending a Social Security disability interview or hearing is to answer all questions truthfully. Don’t say “I don’t know,” but answer yes or no. If you are answering for another person and do not know the answer, state that “to the best of my knowledge, yes (or no).” If you have already met with an SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) person, you know that they rarely, if ever, accept “I don’t know” as a valid response.
Answer each question completely and as thoroughly as possible, but don't over- or under-exaggerate your condition. Explain your disability fully and discuss the working and living limitations that have occurred and the impact you believe this disability will have on the rest of your life. If you are meeting with a disability judge, do not be intimidated. Remember that he is seeking a fair response to your questions.
Before attending an interview or hearing, be sure to double-check your list and take all of your information with you. If you are acting on behalf of another, bring as much information about the person as possible. If you were unable to obtain certain items, such as a certified birth certificate, ask your interviewer whom you should contact. A disability questionnaire is no guarantee that your claim will be processed quickly, so be patient, but do follow up regularly with your social worker.
A disability questionnaire will consist of many questions covering all aspects of your work and pay history, the disability and other personal questions. Many interviews are completed in as few as 15 minutes, but some will last an hour or longer. You will probably be asked how physical your job was and what keeps you from doing it now. Stating that you cannot perform simple tasks such as tying your shoes, lifting dinner dishes, etc., has more effect than stating “I hurt my back at work.” You will be asked questions about concentration, memory and tasks or activities you perform on a daily basis. Other questions may include asking what sports you take part in, can you pick up small objects easily or how much weight you can lift. Answer truthfully and do not exaggerate.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides an Adult Starter Kit that is helpful when preparing to answer questions. The kit and application process are available online. (You may also contact your local Social Security office and inform them that you do not want to apply online.) The checklist will help ensure you have the proper documentation to answer SSDI’s questions. Take the time to review the list and take as much of the information with you. You will needs items such as a certified copy of your birth certificate, bank information, work history and military history, if you served.
As part of the Adult Disability Starter Kit, the Medical and Job Worksheet will assist you in preparing medical information for your claim. Try to complete as much of this as possible before your appointment. You will be asked specifics about your illness or accident, medications taken, tests performed or expected to be performed and jobs you have held in the past 15 years.