Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions:

Electronic Folder Access Questions:

Post-Download Questions:

Which Internet browsers are compatible with the Electronic Records Express website?

We must comply with Social Security Administration requirements and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act standards. Because we must follow those standards, we cannot guarantee that the Electronic Records Express website will be compatible with all internet browsers. We tested the Electronic Records Express website with commonly used browsers such as Internet Explorer for Windows, Firefox for Windows and Mac, Safari for Windows and Mac, and Chrome for Windows and Mac. To get the best results, we highly recommend that your browser have JavaScript enabled in your browser's preferences.

If you are experiencing technical difficulties, you should first check the security or preference settings for your browser. If further assistance is needed, please call the Social Security Electronic Records Express Help Desk at 1-866-691-3061.

Which file formats are acceptable to upload through the Electronic Records Express website?

Depending on which service you are using, the Electronic Records Express website will accept at least one of the following file formats: .doc, .wpd, .zip, .jpg, .bmp, .txt, .xls, .pdf, .tiff, .tif, .docx, .mdi, .rtf, and .xlsx.

Is there a maximum file size that can be sent through the Electronic Records Express website?

Yes. The total file size of individual submissions using Send Response for Individual Case cannot exceed 50 megabytes. The total file size of files sent using Communication Utility cannot exceed 5 megabytes. (i.e., the aggregate size for all files in any one upload submission may not exceed 50MB or 5MB respectively.)

Where can I find instructions for sending a document using the Electronic Records Express website?

Online instructions are available by clicking on the "User Instructions" link in the upper right hand corner of Electronic Records Express website pages. Additional written instructions are available on Electronic Records Express page ( available on

Who do I notify if I have problems uploading a document?

You may call the Social Security Electronic Records Express Help Desk at 1-866-691-3061 or send them an email at, or you should contact the office where you are sending the document or the office that requested the information.

How will I be notified if the ERE website will be unavailable?

To receive notification of scheduled ERE outages, you may subscribe to ERE GovDelivery services on the Social Security Administration's ERE internet website: Social Security Online: Electronic Records Express. You may also subscribe by clicking on the red envelope found on the Bulletin Board of the ERE website's homepage.

I uploaded a document and received a tracking information page with a tracking number. I was contacted the next day and was told that my document had not been received. How could that happen?

The tracking information page means that your document(s) was successfully uploaded to the Social Security web server. Once it is uploaded it must go through a virus scan and a file conversion process (converted to a Tagged Image Format file in order to conform to our storage format). Occasionally an uploaded document will not process. You should allow up to 24 hours before resending a document, although website submissions will be processed in a few hours under normal circumstances.

Are the web options secure?

The website supports SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) / TLS (Transport Layer Security) encryption to protect records submitted from your PC to Social Security and the Disability Determination Services. Your account is protected by your confidential user ID and password combination.

Can I send information to the State Disability Determination Service (DDS)?

You must contact the DDS to obtain a DDS barcode before sending any information to DDS.

Can I send information to the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR)?

You must have a barcode from the ODAR office you are dealing with before sending any information via the Electronic Records Express website.

Is there a time limit for using the Electronic Records Express Website?

After 25 minutes of website inactivity, you will be asked to indicate that you want to continue using the website. If you do not respond within 5 minutes, you will be logged off the Electronic Records Express Website. All users are logged out of the website 2 hours after logging in. If you want to continue using the website and have been logged out, you will need to go to the login page and reenter your User ID and Password.

Are there any instructions that can help me use the new access to the electronic folder site?

Yes. There are User Instructions that will guide you through this process. You can find these instructions on any ERE page by selecting the "User Instructions" link in the upper right hand corner.

When I tried to access my client's electronic folder I was denied access - why?

This message can be received for a number of reasons, such as:

  • You may have entered the wrong social security number
  • The case may not be at the Hearing or Appeals Council level (only cases at the Hearing or Appeals Council level can be viewed)
  • The case may have closed at the Hearing or Appeals Council level - you only have access to the case for a limited period of time after the decision was issued on the case.
  • You may not be shown as the representative for that case

For additional help, contact the Social Security office handling the case.

When I tried to access my client's electronic folder I was told my services had been suspended - why?

You will receive this message if you had 10 unsuccessful attempts to access electronic folders within a 24 hour period. You should contact the Social Security Administration at 1-866-691-3061 to reinstate your access to the service.

Once my access has been reinstated, will my next failed attempt suspend me again?

No, this restarts the clock and the count for failed attempts (10).

When I tried to access my client's electronic folder I received a message "unable to process your request" what does that mean?

  • The case may not be electronic
  • There are multiple electronic cases pending at Social Security and the system cannot determine which one to display.

You must contact the local Hearing or Appeals Council office handling your case for additional help. Note: These unsuccessful attempts to access your claimant's electronic folder will not count as one of the 10 unsuccessful attempts that will cause your access to be suspended.

Can I access any electronic case pending with Social Security?

No, currently only cases at the Hearing or Appeals Council office can be viewed.

How will I know when my documents are available?

An email will be sent to you when your documents are ready to "pick-up". For more detailed information about this process, there are User Instructions that will guide you through this process. You can find these instructions on any ERE page by selecting the "User Instructions" link in the upper right hand corner.

I requested documents from my client's folder through the secured website and I have not received them. What do I do?

If it has been more than 48 hours and you have not received an email, request the documents again.

I requested a download and received an email that my files were ready for "pick-up" but when I went to get them there was nothing there - what should I do?

Files are retained for seven (7) days. You will need to request these files again if they are no longer available.

I began a download but it was interrupted. Will all the files disappear?

No, the files remain for 24-hours after you begin the download process.

Can I add new documents to my client's folder while I am in their file?

Yes, use the "Upload New Files" button at the bottom of the screen.

I submitted documents several days ago and they are not in the Case Documents or Exhibit List tabs of the electronic folder. Should I resubmit them?

First, check the status of your submission by using the "tracking submissions" functionality. If the document shows it is still processing or shows sent but it is not in the file, contact the SSA office handling that case. If the Submission Status is "Error", check the File Status to see if more information is available, or check the previously uploaded file(s) on your computer to ensure it is not password protected or that there is no virus associated with the document. If everything appears OK, resend the file.

What is stored within a Zip File?

The Zip File contains the documents or the multimedia files you requested, an index page describing them, and some additional help files.

How do I view the documents I have requested via Zip?

Go to the Document Index page and place the mouse pointer on the title of the document you want to view and click the mouse button. Alternatively, you can tab to the links and hit the ENTER key.

The link should take you directly to an image of the document.

How do I setup search folders within "TheRecordPlayer"?

Once you extracted the zip file, follow instructions below to specify locations on your computer for "TheRecord Player" to search for audio.

  1. Click Start, point to All Programs, then ForTheRecord and click TheRecord Player.
  2. When TheRecord Player License Agreement appears, select "Don't show this screen again" checkbox on the bottom left, and then click "I Agree" button.
  3. From TheRecord Player, click Open icon (first icon on the bottom).
  4. From the Open dialog box, click Manage Search Folders icon (second icon in the top left).
  5. From the Manage Search Folders dialog box, click Add Search Folder (first icon on the right).
  6. In the New Search Folder dialog box, click Browse.
  7. In the Browse For Folder dialog box, go to the folder that contains the audio file, and then select the audio file (which contains .trm file extension) you wish to add and click OK.
  8. Click Next.
  9. In the Search Folder Name dialog box, enter a user friendly name (ex. Archive Recordings).
  10. Click Next.
  11. In the Search Priority dialog box, set the priority by clicking Priority Up and Priority Down.
  12. Click Finish.
  13. If a Manage Search Folder dialog box appears, click Close.
  • Note: Having multiple search folders can be helpful when attempting to download and play previously downloaded audio. Adding the same audio file, that has been previously downloaded to the same folder, could potentially compromise audio quality.
How do I play the multimedia files I have requested?

Once you extracted the Zip File and setup the Search Folders, follow the instructions below to play the audio file:

  1. Click Start, point to All Programs, ForTheRecord and then TheRecord Player.
  2. From TheRecord Player click Open icon (first icon on the bottom).
  3. From the Open dialog box, expand the desired Search Folder, date folder and label folder by clicking the plus sign.
  4. Once the multimedia file is revealed (where media type contains .trm file), select it and click Open button.
  5. Click Play on "TheRecord Player".
What information is displayed in the header box of the Document Index page?

The header of the Index contains information for identifying the case.

The header displays the:

  • Claimant's name and social security number
  • Claim type associated with the case
  • Adjudicative level associated with the case
  • Date of Last Change, Last Insured, Alleged Onset, and Application
What do all of the sections within the Document Index page mean?

The page is designed to mimic an actual paper disability folder. Each disability folder has color-coded sections that hold different types of documents. Similarly, each section on this page has different types of documents. For example, the "yellow" section entitled Medical Evidence will contain documents relevant to that topic such as Medical Evidence of Record and Consultative Examination documents.

What browsers support reading the documents from the Document Index page?

Every version of all modern day browsers should be supported.

What kind of files are the documents?

The paper documents are stored as TIFF files with the file extension of TIF and the multimedia files are stored as audio files with an extension of TRM.

What is TIFF?

TIFF is an acronym for Tag(ged) Image File Format. It is one of the most popular and flexible of the current public domain raster file formats.

What is TRM?

TRM files are multimedia files that are created by ForTheRecord©.

What application can I use to view the documents?

There are many image viewers available for viewing TIFF documents. The software we know about is listed below for the convenience of our users. Product names are linked to the web pages of the companies that produce them so you can check for additional information.

Some examples of TIFF viewers (SSA does not endorse any software products):

What application can I use to play the multimedia files?

Use FTR "TheRecord Player" for playing the multimedia files.

Please take note of the minimum recommended systems requirements before downloading the player.

What should I do if I clicked on a link to view an image and no image appeared?

The Zip file package contains the documents you downloaded from your client's electronic folder. In order to view these documents you must first extract them from this Zip file package and save them to your computer. Depending on the Operating System (i.e. Windows or MAC) and Unzip program you're using, the process of extracting files may vary.

Therefore, the following instructions should be used as a general guide:

  • Extract all files in this Zip file package and verify that "Use folder names" is selected
  • Save the file in your desired location
  • Go to the location where you saved the file
  • Locate the index.html file and open it by double clicking on it

The documents you have requested will be sorted under the color coded sections within the Document Index (Gray sections within the Exhibit List Index). You will see the document's name and other information (Decision/Disposition date, Received Date, etc.).

When you click on the name of the document, an image of the document will appear. The image you will see is exactly as the document is stored in the Social Security Administration's records. Once you have opened one document, you may return to the index page and open another one.

Test your computer's ability to view multi-page TIFF documents by clicking the link to a sample image below.

Sample Document

You should be able to see both pages of the two page sample document. If you can see both pages you should be able to view all the images within this zip file. If you cannot view both pages of the sample image, you will have to correct this before continuing.

Please check the following:

  • You have a multi-page TIFF viewer installed on your computer. See examples.
  • The file extension TIF is associated with your multi-page TIFF viewer.
  • Check "associating files" or "file extensions" in your operating system's help for more information on changing the program associated with TIF files.
What do I do if I can only view the first page of any given document?
Check that your TIFF viewer supports multi-page TIFF documents. If it does not, you will need to install one on your computer that does.