What should you get from your doctor to file for disability benefits?

You won't be required to get anything at all from your doctor when you file for disability benefits, or at any point thereafter. This is because the social security administration will do all the record and evidence gathering when your case is pending at either the disability application or reconsideration appeal level.

However, some claimants take it upon themselves to get their medical records either prior to filing for disability or shortly after filing for disability. The advantage to doing this is obvious. Disability examiners, the people who make decisions on SSD and SSI claims for the social security administration, receive their cases from social security field offices where claimants first apply. The first act that a disability examiner will typically take will be to request medical records from all the medical and mental treatment sources that are listed on a disability claim.

However, after the records have been requested, the case may simply sit and wait for weeks, and sometimes months. During this time, the disability examiner has his or her hands tied because the majority of the decision making process is based on what the medical records have to say about a claimant's condition. A claimant who gets the medical record from their various doctors, hospitals, and clinics can sometimes shave many weeks of processing time from their case.

Disability examiners who receive medical records from claimants are also often appreciative of this since it allows them to dispose of cases faster and improve their work statistics.

Applicants whose claims are pending at the disability hearing level (meaning a disability hearing has been requested and the claimant is waiting for a hearing date to be scheduled), though, are in a very different position.

At the hearing level, the social security administration no longer does development of a case. Translation: SSA will no longer seek to obtain medical records even though the medical records that were previously obtained will be many months old by the time a hearing actually takes place.

At the hearing level, it is the responsbility of the claimant and/or the claimant's disability representative (who can be a social security attorney or non-attorney representative) to obtain updated medical records and submit them to the administrative law judge who has been assigned to the case.

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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These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

File a disability application for SSD, SSI, SSDI benefits
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How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
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Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria