E-signatures now allowed on SSA disclosure authorizations

May 5, 2012

Starting April 21, 2012, adults who apply for Social Security disability benefits online are now able to sign information disclosure authorizations electronically, according to the Social Security Administration (SSA).

That means optometrists and other health care practitioners may soon begin noticing e-signatures on the Authorization to Disclose Information to the Social Security Administration Social Security Administration (Form SSA-827) documents they receive on behalf of disability claimants, according to a March 22 open letter to health care providers from SSA Commissioner Michael J. Astrue.

The new e-sign option is intended to make the filing and processing of online disability applications more efficient for both claimants and administrators, according to the SSA. Disabled persons who filed for benefits online have heretofore had to print out and manually sign and mail information disclosure forms, the agency notes.

Information disclosure forms for applicants who file for benefits in Social Security field offices or by telephone will continue to have “pen and ink” signatures, the agency notes.

“This improvement for our claimants will not change how we request records from you or the current HIPAA-compliant form that you already accept,” the agency emphasized.

Optometrists receive SSA information disclosure authorizations when asked to document visual disabilities, the AOA Advocacy Group noted.

The SSA’s open letter to health care providers can be accessed online at http://go.usa.gov/EUu. Information regarding Social Security’s new electronic signature process can be accessed at http://go.usa.gov/P7V.

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