Tip #1: Collect All Of Your Medical Records For Your Social Security Disability Or SSI Case
Many people think when they apply for Social Security Disability benefits or SSI, that the Social Security Administration will automatically collect all of their medical records. This is not true. The SSA only collects the records that they think are pertinent to your case, which may mean that they don’t collect records from past surgeries, hospital stays, or injuries, even though it is your past records that prove your are disabled. The SSA also stops collecting records in your case after they deny your case at the “reconsideration” level, which is the second denial in the disability process. This means that a year may go by without any collection of your records and then you could be scheduled for a hearing. If you are not represented by an attorney, there will be no one collecting your medical records during that time and you must have medical records in order to prove a physical or mental disability before a judge. Cannon Disability Law suggests that you request a copy of your past medical records from your physicians or treating sources. You should request a copy of your records anyway, because physicians do not keep copies of records forever. After a few years, doctors destroy your records and if you don’t have a copy, it will be impossible to obtain one. Having a copy also helps new doctors understand your medical problems and if you don’t bring them a copy of your medical records, they will have to request it. We suggest you request a copy of your progress notes every time you visit the doctor. You should be collecting these records as your case progresses because it is wise to have a copy of all of your medical records and you will need a copy of everything submitted to the Judge before your hearing. It can be very expensive for your attorney to obtain medical records on your behalf. If you already have a copy of your records, you avoid that expense. Additionally, you will be prepared when the time comes for your hearing.
Please also remember that the SSA and your attorney are not automatically aware of every physician, counselor, or hospital you have visited. You are responsible for providing that information to the SSA and to your attorney. Unfortunately, attorneys aren’t mind readers and they need your help to collect your records. Make sure you provide your attorney with a copy of your full medical record or a list of all of your healthcare providers, including counselors, programs, ER visits, and any mental or physical testing you have had. Without a complete copy of your entire medical record, you cannot prove your disability claim. Medical records and the support of a treating physician are the best evidence in every disability claim. Contact Cannon Disability Law for further information or help obtaining your medical records.