Last Update: 5/26/17 (Transmittal I-2-206)
The claim(s) file is the official Social Security Administration record of a case. It includes any supporting material, documents, or records that are pertinent to a person's claim for Social Security benefits.
The format of a claim(s) file may be electronic or paper. See Hearings, Appeals and Litigation Law (HALLEX) manual I-2-0-1 for an overview of the electronic disability process. For an overview of the certified electronic folder, see Program Operations Manual System (POMS) DI 81001.005. For more information about the paper modular disability folder, see POMS DI 70005.005 and DI 70010.001.
When a hearing office (HO) receives a request for hearing, the HO staff will also ensure receipt of the current claim(s) file. HO staff will usually not have to take any action to obtain the claim(s) file. New electronic cases will appear in daily Case Processing and Management System reports, and HO staff can access electronic claim(s) files after the servicing field office (FO) transfers jurisdiction to the HO. If the claim(s) file is paper, the FO will generally forward the claim(s) file to the HO with the request for hearing; or, when the claim(s) file is paper and the Appeals Council remands the case, the Appeals Council will send the claim(s) file with the remand. When an HO does not receive a paper claim(s) file with a request for hearing or remand order, it will follow the instructions in HALLEX I-2-1-11.
B. Organization of Claim(s) File
A claim(s) file, whether electronic or paper, contains six sections. Generally, claim(s) files are organized as follows:
Part A (Yellow Tab - front) - Payment Documents/Decision
Part B (Red Tab) - Jurisdictional Documents/Notices
Part C (Green Tab) - Current Development/Temporary
Part D (Orange Tab) - Non-Disability Development
Part E (Blue Tab) - Disability Related Development and Documentation
Part F (Yellow Tab - back) - Medical Records
For detailed information about two-part paper claim(s) files, a description of how to organize each part, procedures for when a paper claim(s) file is full, and other related information, see POMS DI 70005.005.
C. Routing of Paper Claim(s) File
The usual routing of a paper claim(s) file for an HO is as follows:
1. Unfavorable hearing decision or dismissal order
If an administrative law judge (ALJ) issues an unfavorable decision or dismissal, the HO will send the claim(s) file to the Social Security Administration's National Records Center (SSANRC), which retains the claim(s) file until the retention period expires. (See HALLEX I-2-1-10 D for retention periods of claim(s) files.)
HO staff will ensure the hearing recording is associated with the claim(s) file.
HO staff will place an “Active Appeal Period” flag, which states “Please Follow NRC 'K File' Process,” on the top of the claim(s) file. HO staff will send the claim(s) file to the following address:SSA National Records Center
601 South 291 Hwy
6016 East Geospace Dr.
Independence, MO 64056
2. Favorable hearing decision
If an ALJ issues a favorable decision, the HO sends the claim(s) file to the effectuating component (i.e., processing service center (PSC) for title II claims and FO for title XVI claims). After taking all necessary actions, the effectuating component will send the claim(s) file to the folder servicing operation, which will send it to the SSANRC.
In title II claims, PSC 7 handles effectuation issues for claimants under the age of 54. The other PSCs handle effectuation issues for claimants age 54 or older, and their respective jurisdictions are based on the claimant's Social Security number.
D. Retention Periods of Claim(s) File
It is important to be familiar with the retention periods for claim(s) files, because a prior claim(s) file may not always be available. For additional information on prior claim(s) files, see HALLEX I-2-1-13.
The retention periods for all claim(s) files are noted in the Table of Contents of the Privacy Act Systems of Records Notices. For purposes of this provision, the more common claim(s) file retention periods are:
60-0089: Paper claim(s) files in which the claim was disallowed or unfavorably decided are generally retained for 10 years (title II) or for 6 years, 6 months (title XVI). As a general rule, paper claim(s) files in which the claim was favorably decided are retained for approximately 5 years (non-disability) or 10 years (disability) after the last payment is made.
60-0320: Electronic claim(s) files in which the claim was disallowed or unfavorably decided for medical reasons are generally retained for 5 years after the agency's final denial or termination decision, and for 2 years if the claim was disallowed or unfavorably decided for nonmedical reasons. Electronic claim(s) files in which the claim was favorably decided are destroyed after 7 years after the most recently awarded claim if the person has attained full retirement age or a medical reexamination date is scheduled to occur after attainment of full retirement age.
Generally, there are longer retention periods for foreign claims, claims with outstanding overpayments, and claims involving fraud issues. Additionally, claim(s) files can be held beyond the normal retention period(s) if needed to resolve pending litigation.