The Social Security Administration encourages health care providers to accept electronic signatures on Form SSA-827 effective April 1, when Americans can begin applying for disability benefits online. The form is used to request applicants' medical records from health care providers. SSA expects the optional electronic form to reduce application processing times by up to nine days, allowing the agency to provide Medicare and Medicaid coverage to qualified patients more quickly. Medical providers will continue to receive the form with each request for records. According to the agency, the form complies with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act requirements. For more information, visit www.ssa.gov.