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What information does the SSA need to process my disability claim?

Social Security Disability applicants often ask, “What documents do I need to provide to the Social Security Administration (SSA) for disability benefits?”

Unfortunately, many SSI and SSDI claimants fill out their disability application and “sit back” and expect the SSA to do all the work. Given that the SSA receives millions of disability applications each year, the assumption that the SSA is “looking out for your best interest” can be misguided. Even if they wanted to, they simply lack the resources to give every claimant the attention they need.

Your goal as an SSI or SSDI applicant is to make sure that the Social Security Administration has all of the medical and vocational information they need to accurately assess your medical condition and determine if you qualify for benefits. Does this mean you have to gather your own medical records? No, the SSA is responsible for that (unless you have extra copies in your possession), but it does mean that you take a proactive approach to your case.

What information does the SSA need to start your disability claim?

• Medical authorization forms (SSA-827) which according to the SSA, “serves as the claimant’s written request to a medical or other source to release information.

These sources include but are not limited to the claimant’s doctors, hospitals, schools, psychiatric social worker, nurse, family member, friend, and employer.”

• All of the application documents requested by the Social Security Administration.

The SSA will decide whether you are disabled by reviewing your medical files and all of the medical information provided by your treating sources. It is highly recommended
that you take an active role in confirming that all relevant medical records have reached your Social Security Disability file.

One common mistake claimants make is providing inaccurate information on their initial application, making it impossible for the Social Security Administration to gather all of the claimant’s medical records. Not only does this add potentially weeks onto the disability approval process, if the SSA cannot find a particular doctor, the records from them will not be requested and the claimant’s case may be decided without the SSA reviewing all of their medical information.

How can you improve your chances of winning disability benefits?

Provide the Social Security Administration with a detailed and accurate list of all of your hospitals, doctors and healthcare providers. This list should include the names, addresses, phone numbers, and dates of treatment for each treating source.

Adding Information to your Social Security Disability File

After the SSA receives your disability application and medical records they begin to develop what is called the Social Security disability claims file or exhibit file. Disability adjudication in some states is actually performed by state personnel in conjunction with the SSA. The disability adjudicator who is working each case should send the claimant their name and address. If a claimant has additional information or evidence (additional medical documentation, letters or forms) that they would like to submit to the SSA, they should be able to contact their disability adjudicator and arrange for the information to be put into their disability file.

So, in conclusion, to start the disability process you will need to complete a disability application either online at or by contacting the SSA at 1-800-772-1213. To complete this application you will need to have the following information:

• Employment records for the last 15 years and the date of the last day you worked
• Prescription information, including, names, dosage amount and prescribing doctors
• Hospital, doctor, and clinics names, phone numbers and addresses
• The Social Security Number of the individual applying for Social Security Disability benefits
• A Valid birth certificate
• Marriage and dependant information
• Public benefit information you are currently receiving
• Information about your disability
• W-2 tax forms

After completing the application and all of the disability forms, the SSA will begin to evaluate your claim and should contact you within 120 days to let you know if you have been approved.