Obtaining medical records for veterans’ SSD claims may be easier

Knoxville veterans who have applied for Social Security disability benefits (SSD) know that the wait time can be excruciating. This is partly due to the need for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to obtain the veteran’s health care records. When the SSA is deciding whether or not to award a person disability benefits, they need the applicant to supply them with medical documentation of their disability.

In the past, obtaining such information had to be via U.S. mail, fax or other more traditional means. However, Veteran Affairs (VA), the SSA and the eHealth Exchange have developed an initiative that would allow all Social Security disability processing locations to obtain the applicant’s medical records electronically from the VA.

The eHealth Exchange is currently the main way that private health care facilities exchange health information with federal agencies. This new initiative adds the VA to the SSA’s other Health IT partners. This also includes the U.S. Department of Defense.

The new program has successfully passed tests at certain Social Security offices nationwide, and, on Veteran’s Day, went live to all processing locations. According to one source, approximately 15 million medical records are requested each year in order for the SSA to issue a ruling on approximately three million SSD applications.

With the new automated system, veterans applying for Social Security disability benefits may see a quicker decision on their claims. Moreover, it is anticipated that this initiative will also save each agency both time and money Prior to this initiative, when a veteran applied for SSD benefits, it could take months for the SSA to obtain the necessary medical records from the VA. The new initiative would allow the transfer of records in mere minutes.

It is hoped that with this new initiative, more veterans who have suffered war-related injuries who apply for SSD benefits will receive a decision on their application in a more timely manner. Our nation’s veterans have dutifully served our country, sometimes sacrificing their health in the process. They deserve to receive the benefits they need if their disability prevents them from working, and this new initiative is just one way to see that the application process runs in a more efficient manner.

Source: hitconsultant.net, “eHealth Exchange Expands Disability Support for Disabled Veterans,” Nov. 11, 2016