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CONFIDENTIALITY OF PSYCHIATRIC REPORTS USED IN EVALUATING SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY CLAIMS
JOSEPH LERNER
Am J Psychiatry 1964;120:992-996.
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Chief Consultant in Psychiatry and Neurology, Div. of Disability Operations, Social Security Administration, Baltimore 35, Md.

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Abstract

Social Security provisions prohibit the release of psychiatric and other medical reports outside the Social Security Administration, except under the most limited and compelling circumstances. By placing severe restrictions on their circulation and use, the social security law helps preserve the confidentiality of these reports.With respect to those few cases in which a compelling reason for disclosure of medical evidence may be found, however, the help of the reporting psychiatrist is needed. To minimize the potentially unfavorable impact that information in his report may have on a third party (possibly the patient himself), the psychiatrist should report only the clinical and historical data required in assessing functional capacity for work. He should also be selective in his medical phraseology, using euphemistic terms where a third party might consider more commonly used terms objectionable.Through the joint efforts of the Social Security Administration and psychiatrists, confidentiality and its benefits can be effectively maintained.

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