folder.gifAround 2004 Social Security started creating a paperless application process. Instead of creating a paper folder like this one, for each claim, they are saving all your application information in the computer system. Notice the rubber band? Now that’s high tech, LOL. These days, if you file a new claim, for any kind of benefit, retirement or disability, there won’t be a paper folder at all. Of course, there are still a lot of paper folders in the Social Security offices because disability claims filed in the past are still going through several appeal steps.

The paperless process is a good thing, with only a few minor disadvantages.

In general, this is a good thing, for these reasons;

  • Folders won’t get lost anymore
  • All the information is available on the computer system to any employee
  • Transferring your case from one office to another is quick and easy

There are a few negatives to the process however;

  • The paperless file is scattered in several different locations within the Social Security computer system
  • It isn’t quick or easy to open up the different programs to find something
  • There are similar programs and confusing designations for parts of a claim file

What you need to know about the paperless process

The application is not signed by you, and is not stored as a PDF or as an image. The screens used to gather your answers to the application questions are stored. Your agreement to the answers on the application is stored as a date on a computer screen.

Documents like your birth certificate are not stored in the paperless folder. Instead, the interviewer looks over your document and then certifies electronically that it was seen and determined to be valid. So you can’t go back to Social Security some time later and be able to request a copy from your file, it won’t be in there.

The disability report form is stored in a different format, more like a PDF, but not exactly. Once the initial form is completed on the system and sent, it cannot be changed. Additional information can be added to your case either by the interviewer at your local office sending a message into the program, or by faxing additional documents into your folder.

The magic fax

The magical thing about the new paperless process is the faxing of your documents into your “folder.” There is a special fax number the Social Security office uses to add documents into your folder. They fax a document to this number, and within an hour or so, a copy of the document can be viewed inside the electronic folder. Medical records are stored this way.