Using a disability lawyer to Help with Medical Records

An article mentioned the specific case of a claimant who was denied for disability benefits and learned later that one of her hospitals had failed to send in her medical records.

Sadly, this happens a lot when SSD and SSI cases are processed at the initial claim level and reconsideration level. But why does it happen?

Here's a short list as to why.

1. In a small percentage of cases it is true that social security will not get some of your records simply because the records were not requested. Failing to request medical records can sometimes happen as an oversight, but its really not likely to happen.

In other words, if you list a medical source on your disability application or disability appeal, the examiner will send out the request for records because failing to do so can get a disability examiner in not water with his or her unit supervisor.

Generally speaking, when records from a certain doctor or hospital have not been requested, it is because the person filing for Social Security Disability has not provided the proper information. And that happens more than most would think. So, always remember to provide full and complete information when you submit forms to social security, especially your disability application.

2. In other cases, the person working on your disability case may have requested the records, done multiple followups (calling the medical source on the phone and asking "hey where are those records I requested two months ago"), and still not have received the records.

In cases like that, there's not much that can be done. Unfortunately, some medical providers are absolutely horrible about responding to record requests from social security. In instances like this, the examiner may have little choice but to make a decision on a disability claim minus certain records.

A failure to obtain needed medical records, however, happens less often at the disability hearing level. Why is this? It may be partially due to the fact that a disability advocate or representative (assuming one has representation) will sometimes perform many more followups on requests for records than an examiner at DDS ordinarily might.

In fact, many reps will do the equivalent of pestering a doctor's office to death until they've complied with a record request. Why? Because a disability representative (a lawyer or non-attorney advocate) does not get paid unless a case is won. And, in most cases, your chances of winning are diminished if you don't have all the records.

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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