What Questions Does Social Security Ask?

In this article we are going to learn more about Social Security and help you prepare for the process of application. We will also take a look at the questions that Social Security may ask.

What Is the Social Security Administration?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is an independent government agency that administers Social Security. It is an insurance program that consists of retirement, disability and survivor benefits. In order to qualify for these benefits most workers pay into the system through Social Security taxes.

The head offices of the Social Security Agency are located in Woodlawn, Maryland and are referred to as the Central Office. There are tens of thousands of workers employed by the Social Security agency and it is the largest government program in the United States.

It is estimated that by the end of the 2022 fiscal year the agency will have paid out $1.2 trillion in benefits to 66 million citizens and legal residents of the United States. An additional $61 billion is expected in SSI benefits and $7.5 million to low-income individuals.

This government agency is a vital part of the country's economy and without it millions of already struggling Americans would have nothing. It is a program that many have paid into for decades in preparation for retirement and as an insurance policy against sudden disability.

History of the Social Security Agency

On August 14th 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law as part of his New Deal initiative. This led to the creation of the Social Security Board (SSB), a presidentially appointed group of three executives tasked with overseeing the Social Security program.

With zero budget, staff or even furniture the SSB finally obtained funding from the Federal Emergency Relief Administration. It was on October 14th 1936 that the first Social Security office opened its doors in Austin, Texas.

In January of 1937 Social Security taxes were first collected. Just a few years later the first Social Security check was issued to Ida Mary Fuller of Battleboro, Vermont. Ida’s check was dated January 31st 1940 and she received $22.54.

The SSB in 1939 merged with the U.S. Public Health Service, the Civilian Conservation Corp and other government agencies to become the Federal Security Agency. In 1846 under President Harry S. Truman the SSB was named the Social Security Administration SSA.

In 1953 the Federal Security Agency was dismantled and the SSA was placed under the banner of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. Finally in 1994 President Bill Clinton made the Social Security Administration an independent body once again.

The Common Social Security Benefits

There are three main benefits through Social Security which all follow a similar payment pattern based on the birthdate of the recipient of said benefits.

Retirement Benefits

Retirement benefits from Social Security are earned through the payment of taxes taken from an individual's paycheck throughout their working life. A minimum of 40 credits are required to qualify for full retirement which equates to around 10 years of full time employment.

Social Security Disability Insurance

This program was created to take care of tax paying citizens or legal residents who have contributed to Social Security through the payment of taxes should they become unable to work any longer. This generally kicks in prior to retirement age and does so because an individual has become unable to work due to a physical or mental disability.

Survivors Benefits

This is an important aspect of Social Security as it is designed to take care of dependents of beneficiaries who have passed away. This usually means either the spouse or minor children of the deceased individual who was eligible for a monthly benefit. There are some other dependents who may qualify for survivors payments but this may be on a case by case basis.

What Information and Documents Do You Need to Make an Application?

You will be asked for various types of information from personal details, employment information and medical records depending on what type of benefit you are applying for. We will break this up into sections below to give you an idea of what may be needed.

  • Personal & Family
  • Original or certified copy of your birth certificate
  • If born outside of the U.S. either a certificate of citizenship or permanent resident card
  • Marriage certificate/ license if applicable
  • Divorce decrees for any marriages lasting over 10 years
  • Social Security card
  • Banking details (for direct deposit purposes)
  • Education/Work History/Military History
  • Information regarding completed education, such as locations, qualifications earned and graduation years
  • Information from any vocational schools attended
  • W-2 forms and/or self employment tax returns (verifies your former income levels)
  • Employer information for the past two years
  • Date of initial onset of disability
  • Job history for prior 15 years
  • Tasks required by the job you held the longest
  • Military service details
  • Military discharge papers
  • Workers Compensation (If Applicable)
  • Claim award letter and number
  • Settlement agreement
  • Pay stubs
  • Proof of any workers compensation benefits received
  • Medical Records

These will be the most important documents as they will serve to prove your inability to hold a job and your eligibility for financial assistance.

  • Contact details for all doctors, hospitals and clinics who have treated you
  • Dates of diagnosis, treatments, appointments, surgeries and procedures related to the disability
  • Test results and laboratory findings
  • List of medications taken for your disability, how long you have been taking them and whether they are effective
  • Copies of medical records, histories, treatments, clinical findings and prognosis
  • Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) form completed by your primary doctor
  • Statements from non medical sources to attest to your disability. This can be from friends, family, clergy, employer, counselors etc.

Interview Topics When Applying for Disability

When applying for Social Security disability insurance you may need to undergo an in person interview as part of the process. During this process you may be asked to reiterate answers you have given previously in written applications. Common questions include:

  • When did you last work?
  • What medical tests have you undergone?
  • Can you supply details of your relevant doctors visits and what they said?
  • What medications are you taking with regards to your disability?
  • What if any treatments have you had for the condition?
  • Where did you work before you became disabled?
  • What were your duties and responsibilities?
  • Is the condition related to an incident at work?
  • Have you already received workers compensation if work was involved?
  • How far did you go in school?

Interview Questions When applying for Social Security Insurance (SSI)

SSI, unlike Social Security disability insurance, is available to people who have not been able to pay into the Social Security system. It is therefore a little trickier to obtain. Taxpayers with a significant contribution to Social Security would choose SSDI while those who do not qualify financially would get disability coverage from SSI instead. The questions asked by SSI include:

  • Are you married?
  • What is your current living arrangement?
  • How many people share your home with you?
  • How much do you usually spend on household expenses?
  • What are your current sources of income?
  • How much do you earn monthly?
  • Does your spouse have a source of income?
  • Do you have any other resources such as assets or annuities?

Top Interview Tips

How you perform in the interviews for Social Security could be the only thing standing between you and not receiving benefits. Here then are a few top tips to help you hopefully be successful:

Do Not Lie

The importance of this can not be overstated because the Social Security administration takes a very dim view of fraud. If you knowingly give misleading information you can very easily not only be denied but also barred from applying again for attempting fraud.

Exaggeration Is a Mistake

This again comes back to being honest but it should go without saying do not exaggerate the severity of your condition or the level of your financial situation. These are both things that the Social Security administration will check into and if they find documentation that is contrary to your claims you may end up in hot water.

Remain Calm

This may be so easy for other people to say and we fully understand that becoming newly disabled and having your life turned upside down can be stressful and leave you feeling angry. Resenting the process and people questioning what you are going through is understandable but becoming angry with Social Security administration staff will not work in your favor.

Come to the Meeting With Copies of All Your Relevant Records

Never assume that the interviewer has everything that they need already, bring a copy of everything you have related to your case in the event you need to prove something you are claiming during the interview.

Final Thoughts

Some aspects of Social Security are easier to receive than others because certain programs require a lot of proof to verify your eligibility. You may have to attend an interview and this may be nerve wracking. It is smart to be prepared for this with all your records in hand and a calm attitude.

Reference SSA Locator

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  • "What Questions Does Social Security Ask?". SSA Locator. Accessed on May 26, 2024. https://ssalocator.com/blog/what-questions-does-social-security-ask/.

  • "What Questions Does Social Security Ask?". SSA Locator, https://ssalocator.com/blog/what-questions-does-social-security-ask/. Accessed 26 May, 2024

  • What Questions Does Social Security Ask?. SSA Locator. Retrieved from https://ssalocator.com/blog/what-questions-does-social-security-ask/.