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  • Stephanie O. Joy, Esq.

Yes, You CAN Have a Copy of Your SSA File from Current or Past Claim

Updated: Jan 13

Note: This article/video is for general information only and is not legal advice to any particular reader or individual. For legal advice, you must specifically retain a lawyer who evaluates your specific situation.


You apparently have a right to your SSA file, should you find a need. And there are plenty of reasons why you would need it. If it were me, I'd not let a clerk in a field office tell me otherwise. It seems from the SSA's own rules, we can get our SSA file by PDF via Email or by upload to our ssa.gov 'my account', if we have access.


IF YOU PREFER TO WATCH VIDEO EXPLANATION, WATCH HERE:

No fee if for program purposes: Some, likely well-meaning but under-trained, staff will tell you they can charge you a fee. No, they cannot if it is for "program purposes." Moreover, it now appears that they cannot charge you at all unless it is a CD you request (not email or upload to SSA account), even if you ask for it again. If you have a pending claim, that IS for program purposes - even your prior file from a prior lost or won claim, because many things in that file are or could be relevant to your current preparation of your current claim. So, if you DO want a CD (why?), you may not be charged for your first request if for 'program purposes. NOTE that all mention of FEE only concerns when a CD is burned. See here:


Not just by "CD": Some will tell you that you can ONLY get it by CD, a very antiquated and flawed burning of the file that fails to get you access to your file more often than not, in my experience. CDs may be appreciated by some folks, but not by me and not by those that do not have CD readers and who have MAC systems.


For some reason, despite the passage of many years, the SSA has not yet figured out how to burn a CD that others' MAC computers can read. That said, since MACs don't come with "CD Readers" nor do most currently running non-MAC systems, a peripheral $50 device can potentially read the CD to your non-MAC computer system, if you have one.


How about all the claimants that don't have computers? I'd say that is more than 50% of my clients - all have phones, old or newer, smart or dumb ones. But phones won't open a CD either. So those folks have to find a place that will read their CD, print it out at an exorbitant price per page, and $500 later or more, they have a print out blizzard of unorganized material. I have seen, on rare occasion, a kind and hardworking Field Office clerk print and mail a file, but she went into hiding I understand.


If you are using a Social Security Lawyer, ask him or her if she is still living in the stone-aged CD era and enjoys getting your file to review on CD, or if she will need a printed or digital copy by email/upload, etc. I have had many a would-be client send me their CD, (not at my direction) which after weeks and waiting to borrow a CD reader that works, turns out the burn was flawed and the file wouldn't open on the borrowed windows-based computer. This time-waste can mean you will not be getting a lawyer to agree to represent you, because she cannot review your file.


I hope this article helps you avoid wasting your time and energy. If I were writing to the SSA asking for my file, I'd go to this DI link at the SSA website (see below) and actually print it out and attach it to my request letter. If I were asking by phone, I'd explain that I am looking at "DI 81001.035" and the SSA informs that YES, I can have my file by email, Thank you very much. I'd probably call and then follow up with a writing, faxed (my favorite) or sent by certified mail.


OK, so let's get to it. According to the SSA.gov website, the SSA says this:


"DI 81001.035 Copying a Certified Electronic Folder (CEF) to Compact Disc (CD) or Portable Document Format (PDF)" - https://secure.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0481001035


YES, your WHOLE case file: First, if they tell you, as per their own form, that you MUST tell them exactly what from your file you want them to send - NOT SO, "all documents that make up the case must be included". See below, line 2 of the SSA's paragraph.



It is ludicrous to demand that a person who has not had access to his file, is expected to know what it is in it and then articulate which documents he/she wants.


Here is the link from whence it came: https://secure.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0481001035


The SSA narrative even specifies what a case file includes, which means, it would seem, what they must send you:


After blathering about creating an antiquated, probably useless CD, the following sections can be found about how to EMAIL it to you:


"F. Sending an Encrypted PDF via Secure Email To encrypt a PDF and send it to the claimant’s personal email, take the following steps: "


Call me crazy, but this tends to prove that they CAN and do send files by EMAIL, and to a "claimant's personal email". It continues to say:

  • "Create the PDF using steps in section E - Burning Documents from a Certified Electronic Folder (CEF) to CD and PDF format;

  • Once all desired documents are selected, the CD Burning window displays;

  • Select "Send Email";

  • Enter the password on the pop-up window and select "OK";

  • Re-enter the password and select "OK";

  • Enter the recipient’s email address and select "OK";

  • Change the employees email address in the "From" field to ^SSA Documents;

  • Select the "Allow" check box and button on the Microsoft pop-up;

  • Select "No" when prompted to burn another CD;

  • This will generate an SSA email. Select "Send";

  • Add a message to the Alerts & Messages section of eView. NOTE: The message should include what was copied, to whom the copy was given, and the date it was given. Do not put an expiration date on the message.

* From eView, select "Edit (Lock Case)" at the top right-hand corner and "OK" to confirm the case has been locked;

* Navigate to the "Alerts & Messages" tab;

* Select "Add Message";

* Add the message "eFolder sent to the claimant via secure email" to the "Description" field;

* Select "OK" to save the message; and

* Confirm the message has been added to the "Messages" section before selecting "Unlock Case".


Or to your personal online SSA account!: And see here! They apparently can also send it to your SSA account that you have access to. That is terrific, but before you ask for it to be sent there, DO make sure you have access! There are identifying questions, similar to when you want to get into your credit report, to makes sure you are you. If you can't get in, it may be best to ask for it to be emailed (see above). (I just recently took the plunge into my online SSA account to see what my Primary Insurance Amount would be at 62, 67 and 70, and confirmed I must work til 70 :) See here about things to consider when YOU decide to decide when to start collecting retirement.

"G. Sending the PDF to a my Social Security (mySSA) Account To send a PDF copy of eFolder documents to a mySSA account, take the following steps:

  • "Create the PDF using the steps in section E - Burning Documents from a Certified Electronic Folder (CEF) to CD and PDF format;

  • Once all documents are selected, the CD Burning window displays;

  • Select "Send to mySSA";

  • Select "Yes" to send to the claimant’s mySSA Message Center account, when the pop-up displays;

  • A pop-up window will display to indicate a successful or unsuccessful submission with a prompt to select "OK";

* From eView, select "Edit (Lock Case)" at the top right-hand corner and "OK" to confirm the case has been locked;

* Navigate to the "Alerts & Messages" tab;

* Select "Add Message";

* Add the message "eFolder sent to the claimant's mySSA account" to the "Description" field;

* Select "OK" to save the message; and

* Confirm the message has been added to the "Messages" section before selecting "Unlock Case".


NOTE: The message should include what was copied, to whom the copy was given, and the date it was given. Do not put an expiration date on the message."



Lastly - here is a copy of the SSA form that mis-states that you must specify WHAT it is that you want and that you can not just ask for the file as whole. We use this with a comment in the red rectangle, letting them know that we are aware that they cannot so demand:



I hope this helps you get your file without stroking out first or having to wait a year, or having to ask your Congressperson for assistance.

For consideration for Attorney SSD/SSI representation in an upcoming or pending SSDI/SSI disability claim, please fill out our free Attorney Evaluation form. We do NOT charge a retainer to serve you. If, on the other hand, you only seek an attorney level consultation/analysis of a particular situation, whether you are a company or an individual, or to discuss your own situation without representation, to learn information beyond that information you may obtain for free from the SSA itself, and you do not otherwise have a lawyer representing your before the SSA, you may order a scheduled consultation at affordable attorney rates. Contact the office at 201-317-0610 or email stephaniejoy@joydisability.com.









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