When you apply for Social Security disability benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA), and a contract agency called Disability Determination Services (DDS), will make a decision on whether or not you’re entitled to benefits. In order to qualify for Social Security disability, you must demonstrate that you’re unable to work in any job on a consistent basis, for at least a year. This decision will be made based on the various types of evidence in your claim file, which can include reports you’ve filled out describing your symptoms and limitations, and the results of any examinations that the SSA has arranged for you.
However, by far, the most important part of your claim file is the medical records from your doctors and other medical providers, such as hospitals or therapists. At the time you apply for disability, or shortly thereafter, the SSA will ask you to complete a SSA-827 form, Authorization to Disclose Information to the Social Security Administration (SSA). This form gives your health care providers permission to release your treatment records directly to the SSA. It also authorizes educational institutions, correctional facilities, insurance companies, employers, and other individuals (such as family members or friends) to give the SSA any records or information that’s necessary to evaluate your claim. Although completing the SSA-827 form is voluntary, failing to do so could result in failure to be awarded benefits due to a lack of medical evidence.
Carefully read the SSA authorization form before signing it. The first section explains exactly which records are covered under this authorization. In general, this Social Security release encompasses most types of records, including those related to inpatient and outpatient medical care, substance abuse, educational evaluations, and workers’ compensation. However, psychotherapy notes may be excluded.
The SSA release then explains that the authorization is good for 12 months from the date that it’s signed, yet you can revoke it at any time. If your claim is still open a year from the date you sign this form, the SSA will probably ask you to sign a new one. It also notes that an electronic copy of the release will be considered valid. Despite this, it’s common for the SSA to ask you to sign multiple copies of the SSA-827 form. Further details regarding the release of your records to the SSA is provided on the second page of the release.
After you’ve read the SSA Form 827, sign and date it, and enter your address in the space provided, using blue or black ink (in some cases, the parent or guardian of a Social Security can sign in their place.) Make sure you complete the form in front of someone who is willing to sign as a witness and provide their contact information in the space below your signature. The SSA requires this to ensure that it was actually you who signed the form.
If you have any questions about completing the SSA-827 authorization form, it’s best to contact a qualified Social Security disability attorney. The Social Security disability claims process can be lengthy, and involves lots of paperwork. Missing a step or making a mistake can result in even further delays in processing your claim.
Click here for a free evaluation of your claim by a qualified disability attorney or advocate in your area.