As we begin the new year, for some it may feel like summer is far away. But we all know time passes quickly and if your child is living with a disability, there may be important work for you to do if they may need to apply for disability benefits in the future. Read on to learn how you can help secure your child’s future.

After your child stops attending school, you may believe that it is no longer necessary to save any of their educational records. This belief can be a costly mistake, especially if your child needs to apply for Social Security disability benefits as a young adult. Often, it’s important to be able to prove that a disabling mental or physical condition began before the age of 22. School records can make the difference between winning and losing a claim for benefits. In a few months the school year is coming to an end, and you would be wise to ensure that you have a complete copy of your child’s educational records before summer.

But don’t the schools keep the records for years, especially for kids with disabilities who may need them in the future? Unfortunately, most school systems destroy most educational records within five years of the student graduating, transferring, or withdrawing. If your child received special education services, or had a Section 504 plan, you would be wise to obtain, and safely store, your child’s school records.

Why Do You Need School Records?

School records can be critical to prove that a young adult meets or equals the requirements of the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments. The listings describe, for each major body system, impairments considered severe enough to prevent an individual from doing any gainful activity. Along with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), psychological evaluations, and IQ scores; school records will include standardized testing records, grades, progress notes, and evaluations from the teachers. School records will show progress in areas of education and social development. The Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales, Second Edition (Vineland-II) measures the personal and social skills of individuals from birth through adulthood. These types of records can be very helpful when pursuing a disability claim.

If your child has ever seen a school counselor, occupational therapist, or BCBA (Board Certified Behavioral Analyst), these records may be included as well. The occupational therapist or BCBA records will include psychological and psychiatric reports, which will assist in showing patterns of behavior. Standardized testing and grades provide important information on how your child compares with his other peers who do not have impairments.

How Do You Request School Records?

You can request school records in a variety of ways. The best way to request school records is to contact the school where your child was most recently enrolled and request a copy of all records. You can do this with a letter to the school’s principal detailing what records you need. If the school is unable to provide you with the records, a request can be made through the school system. You can also check online for information on how to request records from a particular school system. If you think that your child may need to apply for Social Security Disability in the future, it’s a good idea to make a request before their school records are destroyed!