Will a Disability attorney try to Help You get Your Medical Records for your SSD or SSI claim?
Most disability attorneys and non-attorney reps will help you get your medical records. Oftentimes, claimants don't even know what medical information is necessary to win a claim, and it is this type of legal expertise that a legal representative can and should offer clients fighting for Social Security Disability (SSD) or SSI.
However, before hiring a legal representative, be sure to ask what the policy is concerning medical records. Some representatives require their clients to pay the cost of obtaining the records up front, and this can be hard for disability applicants, who typically have an income that has already been significantly reduced, if not eliminated altogether, due to their medical condition.
If the representative asks for money needed to obtain your medical records up front, this is not necessarily a negative reflection on his or her attitude toward clients. Rather, there are some firms who have hundreds of ongoing cases, and the cost of obtaining medical records for all of them would be prohibitive.
There are some representatives, attorneys, and law firms who will assume the cost of obtaining medical records and agree to wait to be reimbursed until after the trial. However, keep in mind that this only postpones payment--win or lose, most fee agreements between disability attorneys and their clients specify that the claimant will pay the cost of obtaining medical records regardless of if the claim is won or lost. Read your agreement carefully before signing, so that you are aware of what your financial obligations will be when the case is done.
If you absolutely do not wish to pay for the cost of getting your medical records, you can attempt to gather them yourself. Just be sure to ask your representative what he or she needs, and contact your physician regularly until either you or your attorney actually has the records in hand (some physicians take several phone calls before complying with records requests).
Remember that disability claims are won and lost based on information in your medical records, so it's important to provide the adjudicator (decision-maker) with everything needed to prove that your medical condition places physical or mental limitations on your ability to work that are severe enough to prevent you from participating in substantial gainful activity.
About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.
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