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Progress is Paperless in Social Security Administration

5/2/05

The regional offices of the Social Security Administration (SSA) are employing new initiatives in an effort to speed up the claim process. Across the nation digital format has replaced the traditional wet signature in many areas of SSA forms and the trend is continuing. According to SSA Information Systems, internal SSA projections include digital signature screens for immobile disability claims patients to use when signing digital forms in the future. By switching to digital format now law firms can avoid a costly delay in technology development. By capitalizing on the move to digital format, the many 561s, 501s, 827s or 3820s will disappear from representatives' hands!

To speed disability claims in the digital climate, attorneys and claimant's representatives can:
" Learn to utilize the ssa.gov website.
" Expand use of Adobe .pdf files accepted by the SSA.
" Utilize software to streamline client info directly to paperless .pdf format

Most claimants know how to use the Online Disability Report. A good starting point for representatives assisting their clients in the electronic disability process is Social Security's online benefit applications (see link https://s3abaca.ssa.gov/pro/isba3/wwwrmain.shtml). The Internet Adult Disability and Work History Report for Professionals, Representatives, and Organizations deserves particular attention (see link http://www.socialsecurity.gov/i3368prohelp/). This is a time-saving way for representatives to give the SSA medical records and other information about their client's medical condition, health care providers, medications, education, and job skills.

Adobe Acrobat .pdf files have already replaced the traditional facsimile (fax) transmission. The utilization of computer software allows essential client information to be automatically merged into the many different SSA forms. As the SSA process goes paperless, the ability of a firm to comply with digital interfacing will greatly determine the speed and accuracy of the adjudication of a claim. Further initiatives by the SSA will mean continual technological advancement in efficiency. By helping Social Security capture complete and accurate information in an electronic format, the case will move faster throughout the claim process.

Purchasing case management software is the appropriate step for law firms dealing with Social Security and Disability Claims. As the SSA process goes paperless, the ability of a firm to comply with digital interfacing will greatly determine the speed and accuracy of the adjudication of a claim. Further initiatives by the SSA will mean continual technological advancement in efficiency.

What are the advantages to using software that puts the SSA forms directly into your computer?
" Your client profile is automatically entered the Social Security Claims forms.
" Because you submit the document directly and digitally a claim is presented in your own words.
" Developing better computer related skills saves time in the claim process.

Representatives should start to develop the capability to obtain and store medical evidence electronically. Many representatives are moving in this direction in part, because some U.S. District Courts require the parties to file electronically. On a more basic level, representatives should have basic computer skills. Social Security will be providing copies of medical evidence to representatives on a CD-ROM. And while it is easy to navigate on the CD, there are basic computer skills needed. The increasing popularity of case management software within law firms also requires basic computer skills. As representatives streamline client information into digitally formatted case management software, the repetitive paperwork is disappearing from the Social Security Administration.

According to our discussion with Mr. Ollie Garmon, Regional Chief Administrative Law Judge for Region IV of the Office of Hearings and Appeals, Social Security Administration, the upcoming changes entail an entirely new website different from the current www.ssa.gov. The current system requires firms to fax evidence with a barcode that has been sent to them by the SSA or local office. This barcode system will stay in effect to identify the information being sent by claimants and their representatives but the new website will be an easier way to transmit evidence. The website will require registration and approval on the part of attorneys, who will then be issued an ID and password for security purposes. Mr. Garmon said that the website will provide a secure e-mail network that will enable representatives to send evidence as e-mail attachments. He noted that the evidence may be submitted in five or six formats, including Word and WordPerfect.

From Adult Disability Reports to reconsideration of an appeal SSA is going paperless. Electronic format speeds the timetable for claims processing. The SSA is currently promoting the electronic speed up and Social Security Claimant Representing firms can speed up too. The utilization of case management software that is integrated and updated to SSA guidelines is a time and energy saver for all involved parties.

I have had several conversations with the area director in St Paul. The only information that will be scanned will be medical records and that will be done either at DDS or OHA. The local district offices will not be doing any scanning. If they receive a paper or WORD file, they need to enter the information through the internet, causing backups in the local offices. Due to the volume of our business, they want us using the internet filing asap.

Our contact with a firm in Minnesota said she has had several conversations with the area director in St Paul, MN. The only information that will be scanned will be medical records and that will be done either at DDS or OHA. The local district offices will not be doing any scanning. If they receive a paper or WORD file, they need to enter the information through the internet, causing backups in the local offices.

By Leonard Caldwell & Rob Jackson

© 2005 Crocodile Consulting, LLC.