Disability Advocates Save Time for Their Claimants by Accessing SSA Files Online
There is no doubt that we all feel frustrated with how long it takes the Social Security Administration (SSA) to make decisions on disability cases. But, as a disability non-attorney representative, I do have something positive to report, which is that SSA is turning to technology to help improve the process.
At least we are not dealing with how we used to prepare a case for SSA’s review.
The Way it Was
In the “old days,” before the Internet, disability representatives either had to physically go to their claimant’s local Social Security office to review their claimant’s SSA file, or they had to call SSA to ask them to photocopy the file and mail it to them so that they could review all submitted documents. It was a very long and tedious process.
The Way it is Now
It was only a few years ago that technology made it possible for SSA to go paperless. Disability attorneys and non-attorney representatives now get files mailed to them on compact discs – or CDs. SSA’s process of electronically copying a claimant’s paperwork onto a CD is by far more efficient.
What’s Coming Next
But, we expect it to get even better. SSA is developing a system to allow representatives to register for secure access to a claimant’s electronic file online at the SSA Web site. The wait for SSA to mail a CD will end once the electronic system is totally up and running. The online system will be a huge time saver and should be ready for all representatives to use sometime next year.
How it will Work
SSA will give duly appointed disability representatives a secure user ID and password for registration onto the SSA site. Once they log in, they will receive a unique access code to get into the SSA secure system. By providing identifying information on their claimant, they will be given immediate access just to that particular claimant’s SSA file.
Why it will Save Time
Reviewing a claimant’s SSA file is a crucial part of the initial application or appeal process. At Freedom Disability, we want to make absolutely sure that our work in developing a strong case is properly presented to SSA. This quick access to a claimant’s file will allow us to thoroughly check documents to make sure that SSA has received all paperwork. We can make sure that information is complete and accurate and that proper medical support is there to prove disability. We don’t have to wait to find out if a case needs more to win.
Currently, a small group of disability representatives, including myself, have been invited to register for this service. SSA still has some system issues to work out before full accessibility for all disability representatives is available. Also, only cases at the hearing level can be electronically reviewed. By next year SSA expects that all levels of cases, from first-time applications on through the different levels of an appeal, will be accessible online.
As a disability representative I find these procedural changes exciting breakthroughs. As SSA works to cut away more of the red tape that slows down the progress of disability cases, I am also hopeful that we’ll soon see shorter wait times for people with disabilities to get their benefits.