Sunday, March 13, 2005

Can I examine my own Social Security disability claim folder?

Disability claimants sometimes report that a Social Security representative refuses to let them look through their personal claim folder. These claimants ask, does SSA have the right to keep me from seeing this information? Generally not. Generally, you have the right to examine your own folder.

Section GN 03360.030 of the SSA Program Operations Manual System (POMS) says,

“An individual's request for his/her record, or authorization by that person to release the record to a third party must be honored regardless of the workload imposed on the component that receives the request.”

Section GN 03301.005 says:

“Generally, SSA must honor an individual's request to see the information contained about himself/herself in SSA's records.”

Section GN 03340.035 says this right of access applies to medical records, as well as other records, except where allowing the individual un-counseled access to medical records is thought likely to have an adverse effect on him or her.

If SSA refuses a person direct access to his or her medical records, GN 03340.035C(3) authorizes release of the records to a responsible person appointed by the claimant who is capable of explaining the records to the claimant.

So, if an SSA representative refuses to show you your records, you can bring these POMS sections to his or her attention. Or to the attention of the office manager.

To follow developments in Social Security disability, visit: