What should you take with you when you go in to your local Social Security Administration (SSA) office for your initial disability interview? If you answer “everything” you are close to being correct. In a nutshell, SSA wants a complete picture of your medical history and your employment history.
To the extent you can gather the information discussed in this article, do so. But if you don’t have time or are too ill to track down all the information requested, go to your interview anyway. You don’t have to have everything in place before you get started in the process; however, eventually you will have to produce the information required, so start thinking of ways to get help with the telephone calling and letter writing that you will need to do to obtain these records.
One of the best ways to keep all this information organized is to create a spreadsheet for each type of information. You can prepare it either by hand or using a spread sheet program like Excel. A spread sheet give you an “at a glance” view of what information you have and what you still need to get.
- Doctors and Treatment Facilities. SSA will ask for the names and contact information (professional address, telephone number, email address) for all the doctors who have treated you and for all the hospitals, clinics, and other facilities where you have been treated. SSA will want to know the dates you were seen by each doctor and each facility. SSA also asks for your patient id numbers for each care facility.
- Medications. SSA will ask you to provide the names and dosages of all the medications you are taking as well as an explanation of why you are taking them.
- Social Security Numbers. SSA will ask for the Social Security numbers for each member of your immediate family (spouse and children). If you have a Medicaid number, provide that as well.
- Financial Information. SSA will ask you for a list of each bank or financial institution with which you have an account, and they will also ask you for your account numbers.
- Contact List. Provide SSA with the contact information of the person or persons SSA should contact if they cannot reach you, for whatever reason.
- Work History. Make a list of all the jobs you have held, and the dates you worked, for 15 years prior to the onset of your disability.
- Documents. Bring with you (i) any medical records you have saved, (ii) all workmen’s compensation records, which should include the date of your injury and your claim number, (iii) an original or certified copy of your birth certificate, (iv) your military discharge papers for every period of active duty, (v) your most recent W-2 Form (or, if you are self-employed, last year’s tax return) and, if you were not born in the U.S., your citizenship or residency papers.
- Statements. SSA will want to know what disability you have that has limited your ability to work. It will ask for the date you became unable to work because of this disability, and it will want to know how your disability impairs your ability to function. Ask your doctors to write these statements, and tell them to be very specific about (i) their diagnosis, (ii) how this disability limits your ability to function, and (iii) any evidence they have seen when examining you that you have impaired function. Ask them to describe what they have seen in detail. Bring statements from family members, former co-workers, etc., and write one yourself. Your goal is to make your everyday life living with a disabling condition crystal clear to SSA, so that they will have no doubt of your need for Social Security disability benefits.