How to Submit Documents for Initial Applications

Art: Robin Mead. Page Updated: January 2019

We are yet to figure out the perfect way to submit records for initial applications.

One method will work perfectly for one person, and then the next person will do the exact same thing and have endless problems.

This is partly because different workers at Social Security handle records in different ways. Some workers will encourage you to submit records yourself, while others won’t even consider records unless faxed in directly from the doctor.

It can also happen when records go missing from your case file, get put in someone else’s file, get mislabeled, and mysteriously fall into the abyss.

Below is a variety of different options for submitting records, along with benefits and drawbacks for each.

Option One: Let Social Security Collect Your Records

💠 This is the standard way and what Social Security tells you to do.

💠 Make sure you give Social Security complete, updated and accurate contact info for every doctor’s office. Otherwise they might do weird things like send the request to your doctor’s home address!

💠 Pros & Cons: Sometimes this works out, but many readers report that when they did this, the decision got made without all their records in their file.

Option Two: Submit Records to Your Disability Examiner 

💠 A few weeks after you apply, your case will leave the local office and be assigned to a Disability Examiner.

💠 If you are sent an Adult Function Form, you can keep the fax number on the form and use this to fax more things to your examiner if needed. Always double check. Even if you get a fax confirmation, the fax might not actually get into your file.

💠 It’s a great idea to find out who this person is and stay in touch with them: How to Stay In Touch with Your Disability Examiner. You can communicate with your Disability Examiner to make sure they have everything they need.

💠 Pros and Cons: Some Disability Examiners will allow you to fax records directly to them. Others will insist on getting all records directly from your doctors, but you can still assist with this process.

💠 Warning: When a Disability Examiner says they have all your records from all your doctors, this does not necessarily mean they have all your records from all your doctors. Be specific, “Do you have such and such letter written on such and such date?”

Option Three: Submit Records Through Your Lawyer

💠 Many of our readers report that they were surprised to discover that their lawyers did not collect any records during this stage. Many people (mistakenly) assume their lawyer is collect and reviewing their records, when really their lawyer is just writing down the name of the doctors and sending these names to Social Security.

💠 If you collect records yourself, you can give them to your lawyer, and your lawyer will submit them.

💠 Pros and Cons: Submitting records through your lawyer usually works, and Social Security will accept these records. However, some readers report that they gave records to their lawyer and those records never made it into the file at Social Security.

💠 Warning: Your lawyer does not have electronic access to your files at this point. They do not know any more about what is in your file than you do. It’s a great idea to contact your Disability Examiner directly and double check that anything important was received. Your local office may also be able to answer general questions about what records appear, but they cannot open the files to see which specific documents are in it.

Option Four: Submit Through Your Local Social Security Office

💠 You can hand deliver records to your local office, and they will give you a stamped receipt.

💠 Pros and Cons: Some of our readers had great success submitting records this way. Others report that their local office would not accept them. Or the records were accepted but not given full consideration because they had not come directly from the doctor.

💠 Warning: Sometimes the records submitted at your local office never make their way to your disability examiner. Always double check directly with your examiner.

Option Five: Submitting Documents With Other Documents

💠 Some people send in their records along with other documents and forms. Social Security may send you forms to fill out – usually within the first few months after applying.

💠 You can enclose documents and records you wish to send them in the same envelope.

💠 Or you can save the bar code cover sheet that comes with these forms and use it to submit more documents in the future.

💠 Pros and Cons: While this is often successful at making sure the records do not get lost or misfiled, sometimes these records are still not considered because they did not come directly from the doctor. It’s great if you can contact your Disability Examiner to check what they received and what they still need.

Option Six: Submitting Documents Online

💠 So far our readers report that there was no way to submit records or attachments with their initial applications. Though they could send attachments online with appeals.

💠 We imagine this might change at some point. If you gain the magical ability to submit records online, please comment below and let us know.

Back Up Plan!

Some people do everything right and still don’t get their records considered. If this happens to you, don’t worry, you have a back up plan.

Request for Reconsideration is a short appeal stage that takes place right after the initial application. If your records don’t all get seen or considered, you get another chance. During reconsideration they just let you upload your records online!! How to Request Reconsideration

Double Check Contact Info

💠  It can be important that your Disability Examiner has the full and correct contact information for each of your doctors, hospitals, clinics and anywhere else that has medical records. It’s a good idea if you can contact each doctor and make sure the fax, phone and mailing address you wrote on your application was current and correct.

Tips on Collecting

💠 Do not print your records online. Do not send visit summaries you are handed after your office visit. You want complete medical records.

Tips on Timing

💠 Submit any time. A decision could be made any day now! If you have something, send it in.

💠 Sooner is better. If you have an important report, doctor’s letter, or RFC form, please get it to your Disability Examiner as soon as possible.

💠 Some of our readers reported that when they sent things in after their file had already been reviewed by a medical consultant, the new materials were not given full consideration, but instead just labeled “inconsistent with other documentation” and then ignored.

Tips for Submitting

💠  Here’s how you can collect your medical records.

💠  If you are collecting your own records, please make sure you get the full records with treatment notes, not just the visit summaries or online records.

💠  Keep copies.

💠  Put your name and social security number on every document, ideally every page.

💠  Some people find it helpful to number pages as well.

💠 The above information is about new applications. If you are at a different stage with your application, look here: How Do I Submit Records So They Don’t Get Lost?

What Do You Think?

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7 thoughts on “How to Submit Documents for Initial Applications”

  1. Great information here, thanks!
    Can you submit your records on CD, or will they only take paper? I’ve got hundreds of pages, like most people here, I assume.


  2. I’ve been [quite literally] BRaGGinG &AND& sharing this whole website to any & every person in the few various groups I belong to!!! Since I’m “here”, I’ll remind you, yet again, just how absolutely WONDERFULLY HELPFUL Y♡UR page has been to sooo many of us!!!! Bless you,XOXOXOXOX


  3. I have been in the process of filing disability since August 2016. I’ve been to doctor after doctor after doctor. I’ve followed every step by telling my doctor specific problems I’m having and specific areas of my body. My doctors have written letters and filled out RF forms. I have multiple diagnosis and have chronic pain. I’ve had several different careers and I am no longer able to perform any of them. I’ve had to file bankruptcy and I am sinking in doctors bills and hospital bills. I’ve been in front of a law judge and was denied at that level. I waited the 60 days and filed a new claim that I just received an unfavorable decision on today. I have RA, Lupus, Iron deficiency, chronic pain, osteoarthritis, DDD, Barrett’s disease, fibromyalgia, anxiety, depression, and disk protrusions. I have multiple appointments a month and can no longer perform all ADLs on my own. I have contacted my local congressman and even wrote a letter to the president. I am so lost and upset I don’t know what more to do. Please any suggestions??


    1. I’m sorry to hear this.

      For new applications, they generally consider new medical records after the judge’s denial. If you haven’t already done so, getting new current RFC forms can help a lot. For both mental and physical.

      Info on filing for reconsideration. I hope this helps:

      Rfc forms:


  4. I am very concerned that my important documents will get lost when I submit them. I plan on submitting them in person to my local office to ensure that they are received, but after reading what you said about them easily getting misfiled or mysteriously disappearing, I am concerned and I want to be 100% sure that they are received by the right person.
    Here is my question:
    I plan on submitting “documents with other documents” I plan on submitting the “Adult Daily Living” Form early to speed up the process as from what I hear they usually don’t ask you to fill this out until months down the road but I would like to fill it out early to speed up the whole process.
    Should I try handing everything in at my local office AND submitting them to my assigned examiner? I am trying to see what will guarantee that my documents are received


    1. It sounds like you are doing a great job preparing.

      Unfortunately, I do not have a good answer for this, as it seems to vary so much by office and area. Whichever way you decide to submit, just be sure to speak directly to your examiner to confirm exactly what they have received and what they still need and how to get it to them.


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