TN 32 (10-23)

DI 81020.055 Document Retention and Destruction

A. General document retention and destruction

Claimants, appointed representatives, third parties and medical providers submit paper documents in support of a disability determination that are added to the Electronic Folder (EF) using imaging technologies (e.g., scanning, Electronic Records Express (ERE) import, or faxing). The DDS or contract scanner must maintain paper documents long enough prior to destruction to ensure that:

  • The technical person reviews the images (e.g., case adjudicator, medical consultant, quality reviewer) to assess the quality and usability of the image; and

  • Retrieves the paper documents if the images are not viewable.

NOTE: Documents that are submitted electronically through ERE are exempt from the document retention policy.

B. Paper disability report forms

Claimants, appointed representatives, or third parties may submit paper disability reports to the field offices (FO).

1. Submitted prior to case transfer to Disability Determination Services (DDS)

If the claimant submits a paper disability report (e.g., SSA-3368 Disability Report - Adult) before a case is transferred to the DDS, the FO will:

  • Key in all the disability report responses in Electronic Disability Collect System (EDCS) along with any information the claimant, appointed representative, or third party provides during a disability interview;

  • Annotate 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); and,

  • Shred the paper form.


For handling Continuation Disability Review (CDR) forms on eCDR claims, see DI 81010.225.

2. Submitted after case transfer to DDS

When the FO receives a paper disability report after the case has been transferred to the DDS, the FO will:

  • Compare it to the information in EDCS;

  • Record any new or changed information using the EDCS Update After Transfer (UAT) functionality; and

  • Shred the paper form.

C. Document retention

1. DDS locally scanned and faxed documents

The DDS will retain locally faxed and scanned documents until they have verified that an acceptable image has been added to eView. After faxing documents into eView, the DDS will:

  • Review the image in eView;

  • If the image is acceptable, shred the document; or

  • If the image is not acceptable, repeat the faxing or scanning process until the image is viewable in eView.


There may be a delay between the time an individual faxes or scans in a document, and the time the image uploads into the EF. Wait a sufficient time for the imaging process to complete before re-faxing or re-scanning the document.

2. Contract scanned documents

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

If the contract scanner returns the documents to the DDS, the DDS will determine if the documents are viewable in eView, and then shred the paper copy.

The contract scanner may also forward documents to the DDS that contain one or more of the original items listed below and an “S” in the barcode (see DI 81020.035). Mail the documents 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 determines if they requested the original documents, if so, the documents are returned to the claimant.

If the DDS did not request the original documents, they return the documents 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 documents to the claimant as appropriate.”

3. ERE import

There are no paper documents to retain when DDS users upload electronic documents displayed on their desktop into the EF utilizing the ERE import functionality, or when medical sources and providers upload documents through ERE. Offices are not required to print or store documents that they receive electronically.

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, scan documents into the electronic case. Though most of the documentation will be stored in the electronic folder, the official folder is paper. The FO and DDS will follow filing documentation procedures for partially electronic cases per DI 81010.030C.


Do not print and file the EDCS disability reports in the paper folder (e.g., SSA-3368, SSA-3820, SSA-3441). All components can use eView to view the disability reports keyed into the EDCS case. All disability reports are identified on the EDCS Routing Form attached to the front of the paper Modular Disability Folder (MDF). For a list of documents that do not need to be scanned into the EF refer to DI 81020.050B.

2. Disability Starter Kit Worksheet

If the paper folder contains a Disability Starter Kit worksheet, shred the worksheet. Do not file 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). Use Only the methods described in this section.

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.


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

3. Methods of destruction

For procedures regarding destruction of data and paper records the DDS should refer to:

DI 39567.010 DDS Physical Security Policy and Guidelines

DI 39567.260 DDS Suitability Program Guidance

DI 39567.220 DDS Procedures for Safeguarding and handling Paper Records

DI 39567.225 DDS Procedures Safeguarding and Handling Electronic Records

To Link to this section - Use this URL:
DI 81020.055 - Document Retention and Destruction - 10/17/2023
Batch run: 10/24/2023