BASIC (01-08)

DI 81020.055 Document Retention and Destruction

A. General

Documents submitted by claimants, third parties and medical providers in support of a disability determination are added to the Certified Electronic Folder (CEF) using imaging technologies (e.g., scanning, Electronic Records Express (ERE) import, or faxing). Electronic certification eliminates the creation of a paper folder for electronic cases when the CEF is the official agency folder. Source documents must be maintained long enough prior to destruction to ensure that:

  • The images are reviewed by a technical person (e.g., case adjudicator, medical consultant, quality reviewer, etc.) who can assess the quality and usability of the image; and

  • They may be retrieved if it is determined that the image is unacceptable for on-screen viewing.

B. Disability Report Forms Submitted by Claimants

Claimants may continue to submit partially or fully complete paper disability reports to the Field Offices (FO).

1. Submitted Prior to Case Transfer to Disability Determination Services (DDS)

If the claimant submits a partially or fully complete paper disability report before a case is transferred to the DDS, the FO will key:

  • All disability report responses into EDCS in conjunction with any information provided by the claimant during a disability interview, and then shreds the paper form.

  • Appropriate observations in the “Remarks” section of the SSA-3367 (Disability Report – Field Office) to document anything unusual about the appearance of a completed paper form that could be relevant to the determination of disability and that would not be evident from the electronic version (e.g., when a claimant completes the form using unusual drawings, extensive writing in the margins, or unusual language).

NOTE: See CDR Forms for eCDR Reviews - DI 81010.225, for handling CDR forms on eCDR claims.

2. Submitted After Case Transfer to DDS

When a paper disability report is received after the claim has been transferred to the DDS, the FO:

  • Compares it to what is already in EDCS;

  • Records any new or changed information using the EDCS Update After Transfer function; and

  • Shreds the paper form.

C. Source Document Retention

Documents that are locally scanned in the DDS will no longer be retained; once the document is verified to be accessible in the CEF it can be destroyed.

1. Faxed Documents

Retain faxed documents until the DDS has verified that an acceptable image has been added to the CEF. After faxing documents into the CEF:

  • Review the image in eView;

  • If the image is acceptable, destroy the source document; or

  • If the image is not acceptable, repeat the faxing process until an acceptable image is produced. NOTE: There may be a delay between the time that the document is faxed and the time the image is posted to the CEF. Wait a sufficient time for the imaging process to complete before re-faxing the document.

2. Contract Scanned Documents

The contract scanner retains contract scanned documents for 15 days from scan date. Documents stored by the contractor may be recalled or rescanned if needed during the retention period (see Contract Scanning Procedures - DI 81020.045).

If the contract scanner returns the source document to the DDS, the DDS will determine if the document is accessible in the CEF and then destroy the paper copy.

The contract scanner forwards documents to the DDS that contain one or more of the original items listed below and an “S” in the barcode (see DMA Barcodes and Document Indexing - DI 81020.035). The documents are mailed in an envelope with a yellow label affixed which reads “Original Document Retrieval”:

  • Birth certificate

  • Driver’s license

  • Marriage license

  • Social Security card

  • Death certificate

  • Tax returns

  • Naturalization certificate

The DDS will determine if the evidentiary documents were requested by the DDS. If so, the documents should be returned to the claimant directly.

If the DDS did not request the evidentiary documents that were submitted to the DDS, the documents should be returned to the servicing field office. Prepare a routing slip with the following remark: “The attached proof was sent to the DDS by the claimant. Please return the document to the claimant as appropriate.”

NOTE: The appropriate DDS is determined by the PO Box from which the document was received. The DDS will determine whether or not it requested the original document. If the DDS did not request the original document, the DDS will forward the document to the servicing FO.

3. Electronic Records Express (ERE) Import

No paper source documents are associated with these images because they are electronically added to the CEF. Offices are not required to print or store medical records received electronically.

4. Re-Imaged Documents

If the DDS requests that the source document be re-imaged (e.g., the image quality is unacceptable for case processing), the retention period begins on the date the source document was rescanned or re-faxed.

D. Electronic Case Associated with a Current Paper Folder

1. Maintaining the Paper Folder

If an electronic case is associated with a current paper folder (e.g., an EDCS exclusion claim added after the CEF claim was receipted by the DDS):

  • The paper folder is the official agency folder;

  • File all folder documentation in the paper Modular Disability Folder (MDF); and

  • Retain any source documents.

EXCEPTION: Do not print and file the EDCS disability reports (e.g., SSA-3368, SSA-3820, SSA-3441) in the paper folder. All components can use eView to view the EDCS disability reports. All disability reports are identified on the EDCS Routing Form attached to the front of the paper MDF. Refer to Onsite Scanning Procedures - DI 81020.050B., for a list of documents that do not need to be scanned into the CEF.

All other paper documents the DDS receives and scans into the electronic case should also be filed in the paper MDF.

2. Disability Starter Kit Worksheet

If a folder contains a Disability Starter Kit worksheet (SSA-3381 and SSA-3819), shred the worksheet, since it should not be filed in the disability claims folder.

E. Destroying Records - Policy

1. Authority

Federal agencies are required to follow regulations issued by the Archivist of the United States governing the methods of destroying records (44 U.S.C. 3302). Only the methods described in this section shall be used.

2. Requirements for the Destruction of Sensitive Records

Sensitive paper documents (e.g., medical evidence) ready for disposal must be destroyed in such a way (i.e., burning, pulping, shredding, macerating, or other suitable similar means) that the material cannot be reassembled and used in an inappropriate manner in violation of law and regulation.

Electronic records (e.g., CDs) must be destroyed in a manner that prevents reconstruction and use of the record.

NOTE: Non-sensitive paper records ready for disposal must normally be sold as wastepaper.

3. Methods of Destruction

DDSs should refer to DDS Physical Security Policy and Guidelines- DI 39567.010, DDS Suitability Program Guidance - DI 39567.260, DDS Procedures for Safeguarding and handling Paper Records DI 39567.220 and DDS Procedures Safeguarding and Handling Electronic Records - DI 39567.225, for procedures regarding destruction of data and paper records.


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0481020055
DI 81020.055 - Document Retention and Destruction - 04/02/2009
Batch run: 04/02/2009
Rev:04/02/2009