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How are Medical Records Gathered by the Social Security Administration?



Winning Social Security Disability benefits can be an arduous process but with a little information and effort there are some simple things the claimant can do to facilitate the process. One of the most time consuming tasks for the Social Security Administration is gathering medical records for each Social Security Disability applicant. Understanding the data gathering process and helping out where possible can expedite the Social Security decision making process.



  1. The first step in the Social Security Disability application process is for the applicant or claimant to submit their Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) application to the Social Security Administration. Applications can be completed over the phone, in person or online. Claimants who wish to meet a Social Security Representative in person will go to the Social Security Administration’s nearest field office. Appointments should be made in advance.

  2. The claimant’s SSDI or SSI application will evaluated by the Social Security Administration. In most states the agency who evaluates a Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income claim is called the DDS or Disability Determination Service.

  3. At the Disability Determination Service office the SSI or SSDI claim is assigned to a disability examiner. The disability examiner is responsible for sending out requests to all of the applicant’s medical providers who were listed on the application for medical information for the claimant. The M.E.R. requests or medical evidence of record requests should be completed by each doctor, clinic and hospital as soon as possible and sent back to the Social Security Administration for review. It is extremely important that the disability claimant provide an accurate and complete list of all medical personnel and clinics that have provided medical care for their disabling health conditions.

  4. The claimant’s disability case is considered “on hold” until the medical records are received and the evaluation for the Social Security Disability case can continue. Unfortunately, gathering medical records can be the most time-consuming part of the disability evaluation process and can take weeks or months. The disability examiner, who is evaluated on the number of cases they can get closed, generally makes every effort to gather records as fast as possible. Claimants who are able to provide their own medical records to the examiner may eliminate this step and expedite the decision for Social Security Disability benefits.

  5. After the disability examiner receives the claimant’s medical records they will begin to evaluate the claimant’s Social Security Disability claim and make a determination of whether or not they are physically or mentally impaired and unable to work.


Every claimant wants to know “what can I do?” The answer is very simple, do everything you can to make sure the disability examiner has accurate and complete medical records to make your disability determination. If you have copies of your medical records they can be sent to the disability examiner. Review your medical records and make sure they accurately reflect your current medical condition. Hiring a Social Security Disability attorney may also help. Social Security Disability lawyers can gather medical records and request statements from your doctors which outline your medical conditions and any residual function capacities you may have to continue working.

Do not stop going to the doctor. Receiving Social Security Disability benefits can be a lengthy process. Keep going to the doctor for your mental and physical health conditions. Continuous medical care is imperative and can provide evidence that your condition is serious and you are dedicated to getting the medical treatment you need.