How to Get Your Social Security Files from the SSA

Millions of people in the United States receive Social Security Disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Each year, millions more will apply for SSDI or SSI. Whether you are going through the Social Security Disability application process or are already receiving disability benefits from the SSA, you may, at some point, need to request a copy of your Social Security Disability file. Why would you want a copy of your records from the SSA and, more importantly, how do you go about obtaining a copy of the records you need? The following information will help you understand when you should request a copy of your Social Security Disability file and how to obtain a copy of the records the SSA is keeping regarding your disability claim.

Further Reading: What Is SSI?

When Should You Request Your Social Security Disability Records?

If your initial application for Social Security Disability benefits has been denied (and it is important to remember that approximately 70 percent of initial applications are indeed denied by the SSA), then it is in your best interests to obtain a copy of your Social Security Disability file from the SSA. You will need to have this information prior to your hearing before an administrative law judge.

When you request a hearing before an administrative law judge to appeal the SSA's decision to deny your benefits, you will want to know what information the SSA bases its decision on. It is important to review your file to make sure that you have not left out any key information that is vital to filing a successful disability claim.

You should also have a disability attorney review your file. It is in your best interest to work with a disability attorney during the Social Security Disability process. An attorney will know what evidence is needed to prove your claim for disability benefits. By reviewing the records the SSA has on your case, your attorney will be able to determine whether or not key information is missing and what further evidence should be provided to the administrative law judge who will be hearing your case.

In addition to obtaining records during the application process, you may also want to obtain a copy of your Social Security Disability file when you are receiving disability benefits, especially if your case has come up for a continuing disability review. It is important to know what records the SSA has regarding your case and how those records may affect your existing disability benefits.

How to Get Your Social Security Disability File

You have a right to see everything in your Social Security Disability file and obtaining a copy of your records is relatively easy. You can request your records directly from the SSA by either calling the SSA's toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213 or by visiting your local Social Security office. Just remember, even if you are going to request the records in person at your local office, your records will need to be mailed to you at the address you provide. You will not be able to obtain your records from the Social Security office on the day of your visit.

When requesting your Social Security Disability file, you will need to provide the SSA with some personal information, so make sure you are prepared when you call or visit the office with your request. If you will be requesting your file over the phone, you will need to provide the SSA with your social security number, your name, your birth date, and the address you would like the file mailed to. If you are requesting your records in person, you may also need to provide proof of identification.

How Long Will It Take?

The time it takes to receive your Social Security file will depend on the method you use to request the information and what area you live in. Since the records will be arriving by mail, the Postal Service will also play a role in the exact turnaround time. As a general rule, it takes approximately one to two weeks from the date of your request to receive your file in the mail. If it has been longer than two weeks since you submitted your request and your Social Security Disability file has still not arrived, contact the SSA to follow up.

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