Generally, members of the public or the press may request information from a government agency, such as the SSA, pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). However, there are exceptions to the FOIA rule and the SSA is not supposed to release personal information about living people to the public.
You Can Feel Confident Submitting Personal Information to the SSA
In order for the SSA to make a fair and accurate Social Security disability determination for you, the agency is going to need personal and sensitive information including, but not necessarily limited to:
- Your medical records, which may include your mental health records.
- Statements from your treating physicians, which may include your prognosis.
- Your work history, which may include your previous job responsibilities and the locations where you worked.
There are many reasons why you would not want this information released to the public or to an individual without your consent, and it is the SSA’s responsibility to safeguard your privacy.
Unless You Give Consent
If there is someone with whom you want to share your Social Security disability applicationor file, you have the right to provide your consent to have the information shared. This may include, for example, a doctor, social worker, or someone else. It is best to provide your limited consent in writing to the SSA. Additionally, if you have an authorized representative, such as an attorney, you may allow that person to access your records by filling out the correct SSA form, such as Form SSA-1696-U4.
If you know anyone else who is concerned about privacy during the Social Security disability application process, please share this FAQ with her so that she can better understand her rights.
by Paul B. Burkhalter Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.