New Signature Process for Form SSA-827 --
"Authorization to Disclose Information to Social Security"
Since April 2012, adults filing for Social Security disability benefits online on their own behalf have had the option to use the internet to sign and submit their Authorization to Disclose Information to the Social Security Administration (Form SSA-827). Now, adults filing by telephone or in person also have a new method to sign their authorization. Beginning December 2012, adults filing on their own behalf by telephone or in person can use our attestation process to sign and submit their SSA-827.
How do these processes work?
When applicants file for disability benefits they are now given the option to sign the SSA-827 as part of their application process using the internet or using our attestation process. Once signed, the form is transmitted and saved directly to Social Security's systems. This eliminates the need for applicants to print, sign, and mail or deliver a paper copy to a Social Security office. Our application process includes steps to verify the identity of the signer, and we continue to protect the information and records we receive. When filing online, applicants can print a copy of the signed SSA-827 for their records. For those filing by telephone or in a Social Security office, we will provide a copy of the signed SSA-827 to them.
For information about the signature processes for disability appeals, see below.
What are the benefits of these processes?
By offering applicants new options to sign and submit the SSA-827, we improve our process and provide better service to our customers. Social Security estimates that, on average, this reduces disability application processing time by nine days on some cases filed online or by telephone, which can result in applicants receiving much needed medical insurance coverage and cash benefits sooner. Applicants filing over the internet also benefit from a streamlined process that allows for the online submission of all parts of their disability application.
I am applying for disability benefits. How does this affect me?
If you are an adult applying for disability benefits on your own behalf, once you have read the SSA-827 and intend to authorize disclosure to Social Security, you now have the opportunity to sign the form more efficiently as part of your disability application, whether applying over the telephone, in person, or online. By signing the SSA-827 with our new processes, you will not have to print, sign, and mail or deliver a paper copy of the form to a Social Security office. This means that we can begin processing your disability claim sooner.
I provide Social Security with patient/student records. How does this affect me?
You will continue to receive an SSA-827 with each of Social Security’s requests for records. There is no change to the current HIPAA-compliant SSA-827 form you are already accepting. In the completed signature block, you may see an indication that the applicant signed using our new processes. You may see the name of the Social Security employee in the witness block if your patient applied for disability benefits by telephone or in a Social Security office. Again, the only new thing is the method used to sign the form.
The Department of Health and Human Services has stated that signatures may be used on forms such as the SSA-827. Signatures are permissible under HIPAA and other applicable laws.
By accepting the signed authorization, you are helping to speed up the application process, which can result in patients getting quicker access to cash benefits and medical insurance coverage under Medicare and Medicaid, which in turn may decrease the number of uninsured and underinsured patients you serve.
We will only be accepting signed authorizations using the new processes from adults filing for disability benefits on their own behalf, so you will also continue to see traditional wet-signed SSA-827s. We expect that the number of authorizations signed with our new processes will expand as we improve our services to meet the changing needs of the public.
I am filing a disability appeal online. How does this affect me?
If you are an adult filing a disability appeal on your own behalf, once you have read the SSA-827 and intend to authorize disclosure to Social Security, you now have the opportunity to sign the form more efficiently as part of your disability appeal, whether applying over the telephone, in person, or online. By signing the SSA-827 with our new processes, you will not have to print, sign, and mail or deliver a paper copy of the form to a Social Security office. This means that we can begin processing your disability appeal sooner.
Frequently Asked Questions regarding the Signature Processes
How do Social Security's signature processes meet the requirements for a valid authorization under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule?
What steps does SSA take to verify identity of the signer?
How does Social Security protect the information that it gets from health care providers?
Is a disclosure to Social Security safe?
Why is Social Security using an employee attestation process for Form SSA-827 when individuals apply for disability benefits by telephone or in a Social Security office?
Organizations that are helping us spread the word about our new signature processes
American Health Information Management Association: April 2012 E-Alert
American Hospital Association (AHA): AHA News Now
American Medical Association (AMA): AMAWIRE
American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP): News in Brief: Week of March 26-30
Department of Defense (DoD): Reliance on a Signature on Form SSA-827 when Disclosing Protected Health Information to the Social Security Administration
Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS): HIMSS News
Professional Association of Healthcare Office Managers (PAHCOM): March/April 2012 PAHCOM Journal article
For more information about these changes, contact your local Professional Relations Officer
- Information on Form SSA-827
- How SSA-827 Meets Requirements
- Get important updates about Social Security's Signature Processes
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) FAQs:
- Professional/Medical Relations Officers In Your Area
- Health and School Professionals
- Disability Evaluation Under Social Security
- Consultative Examinations: A Guide for Health Professionals
- Disability Related Publications For Health & School Professionals
- Electronic Records Express