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Do I have to request my own medical records for SSD disability benefits?

Many claimants want to know if they are required to gather their own medical records for their Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim. No, the Social Security Administration has the responsibility to gather information from the claimant (doctor’s name, address, phone number) and contact each doctor for relevant medical records.

The SSD claimant does, however, have the responsibility to provide detailed information about all of their treating physicians and make sure the SSA has the information they need to collect the medical records as quickly as possible. Inaccurate and incomplete doctor information can add days or weeks onto the disability determination process. In some cases if the Social Security Administration does not have accurate information they may be unable to gather all of your medical records, which could impact your disability decision.

Another common question from claimants is how long does the process take and is there anything I can do to expedite the process. As mentioned above, providing accurate information is one of the most important things. What would I do if I was disabled? I would gather my own medical records, review them, make copies and make an appointment with the SSA (in-person) to hand deliver the medical records to the Social Security Administration Field Office. Is this required? No, it is not and many claimants are too sick to make this effort, but at the very least, you should understand what is in your medical records.

So if you cannot obtain your own medical records, you need to review your medical records. You have the legal right to request copies of your medical records after the SSA has received them from your doctors. Many claimants are surprised by what is and is not included in their Social Security Disability file. Some medical records may be missing or more likely, hundreds of Social Security Disability claimants have files which contain medical records which are illegible.

The Social Security Administration may discard any information from your medical file that they cannot read, and your Social Security Disability lawyer cannot present a solid Social Security Disability case if they cannot read your medical records. This is something that could be evaluated and corrected early in your medical care (if you reviewed your files) and could really improve your chances to win SSDI or SSI benefits.

Reviewing your Medical Records

So if you have requested your medical records and you are reviewing them, what exactly are you looking for?

• Make sure that all of your medical records are legible.
• Make sure the doctor’s have listed a clear diagnosis.
• Make sure the diagnosis is validated with the appropriate tests (MRIs, X-rays, blood tests, etc.).
• Make sure all of your medical records are present in your Social Security Disability file.
• Request a Residual Functional Capacity form from your doctor.
• Make sure the Residual Functional Capacity form or RFC has specifically identified the severity of your mental or physical health condition and why you are unable to work.

Hiring a Social Security Disability Lawyer

Many claimants choose not to hire a Social Security Disability lawyer. Can you win SSDI or SSI benefits without a disability lawyer? Yes, thousands of claimants win their disability claims every year without legal assistance, but thousands more waste months or even years fighting for benefits and end up hiring a disability lawyer.

A disability lawyer understand the disability process and exactly what type of medical information you need to prove to the SSA that your condition either meets a listing or you no longer have the residual functional capacity to work.