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How do I request my own copy of my medical records?

Federal law allows patients the legal right to obtain copies of most of their medical records. What does this mean for you? You have the legal right to get your lab reports, billing information, health records, test results and doctor’s notes, if you your request is done in a lawful manner.

If you have had additional x-rays, blood tests, CT Scans or MRIs, you should be able to get these records either from your primary care doctor or the doctor who requested the test. The laboratory may be unable to provide them to you. All medical records for hospital stays or medical treatment performed in a medical facility should be requested from that facility.

Most medical providers are required by law to keep adult medical records for up to six years. State laws can vary and it is best to request medical information as soon as possible after the medical service is provided.

By law, some mental health records may not have to be shared with patients, if for instance, the clinic or doctor believes the knowledge could cause the patient to physically harm themselves.

Steps to request medical records

• Contact each doctor or specialist directly and request your medical records. It is lawful for the facility to charge a small fee (per HSC Section 123100) but the fee should not exceed $0.25 per page, as of December 2010.

• The method to request the record could vary by doctor. Most doctors will accept a request form if it is received via mail or certified mail. Be sure to include your name, contact information, and your address. Verify if the doctor accepts request online or has a special form which needs to be completed.

• Keep records to document when you made the request, who you spoke to and the address and phone number of the doctor’s office.

What if I am denied access to my medical records?

All claimants who are denied access to their medical records can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service's Office of Civil Rights. Certain state regulators may also be able to help, depending on your state's medical privacy laws.

What is the benefit of having my own medical records?

SSDI or SSI claimants could save weeks or months in the disability claim process by having copies of their own medical records and providing these to the SSA at the time they apply for either Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income benefits.

The SSA spends most of their time making requests for a claimant’s medical records and fails to provide accurate contact information for their treating medical sources? This can add additional processing time to an already lengthy disability determination process.

Hiring a Social Security Disability Lawyer

If you have been unable to get medical records from your doctors a disability lawyer can help. Disability lawyers can review your medical records and your SSA disability file and make sure it contains the information you need to prove that your condition is severe and either meets or exceeds a listing on the SSA Listing of Impairments or is so serious that it leaves you little residual functional capacity to work.