SSA Explains Access to Substance Abuse Records

Empire Justice Center April 30, 2019

Earlier this year, the Social Security Administration (SSA) issued Emergency Message EM-19008 :  SSA-827 and Substance Abuse Records.  This EM provides guidance on procedures to follow if a medical provider declines to share substance abuse treatment records for a claimant or a beneficiary despite a proper electronic or paper request for records utilizing the SSA-827 form.


Apparently, some medical providers have refused to release “certain mental health and/or substance use disorder patient records” to SSA based upon their contention that the SSA-827 submitted to the provider “does not comply with the requirements of 42 C.F.R. Part 2.”  Some providers have also redacted those portions of records that address mental health and substance use disorder issues.


In response, SSA solicited a letter from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (at HHS) (SAMHSA) advising:


…that providers may rely on an otherwise valid SSA-827 form to disclose records protected by 42 C.F.R. Part 2 to SSA, without concern that SAMHSA will initiate, recommend, or support enforcement action against providers for such disclosures.


Thanks to Jim Murphy of LSCNY for bringing this issue to our attention.