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Is There any Benefit to Viewing Your Social Security Disability SSI File?



 
I was having this conversation with another individual who is also a former disability examiner and is currently a CR (claims rep) in a social security office. Our shared opinion was that there was, for most claimants, little advantage to an unrepresented claimant viewing their file. This is simply because most claimants will have difficulty understanding how prior decisions (by disability examiners) were made.

Without an understanding of how past work and other work are viewed and how medical vocational rules are applied to direct the outcome of a case, it might asking a little too much of anyone who is not a disability examiner, CR, or disability representative (who could be a disability attorney or a non-attorney representative) to understand exactly what has transpired on a case at the disability application and reconsideration appeal levels.

However, there are a few reasons that can validate a claimant getting a copy of the disability file on disc.

1. The claimant can see what medical evidence was obtained and if any treatment date ranges were missed. As to medical records, the claimant can also learn whether or not incorrect records were accumulated in the file (I recently became aware of a situation where the file included records for a person of the same name, but which did not belong to the actual claimant: obviously a mistake).

2. The claimant can potentially learn what the medical treatment sources (your treating physician and other sources of treatment) may really think about the claimant's condition and their limitations. Sometimes, this can be enlightening. I have actually encountered situations in which claimants fully believed that their doctor stood 100% behind their claim. Then, after an attempt was made to obtain a medical source statement supporting the claim, it became clearer that the physician did not actually believe that their patient possessed functional limitations to the extent that they were disabling.

3. The claimant may be able to see how their own description of the various jobs that entailed their past work became translated into actual job identifications by the disability examiner (using a reference source known as the DOT, or dictionary of occupational titles). In some cases, an astute claimant may find that the job title and description of work duties assigned by the examiner to the job title and description of work duties provided by the claimant...are not a valid match.

Why do bad matches occur? Because there are many jobs that exist in the national economy that are not listed in the DOT. This may be particularly true in the case of tech jobs that have been created in the last decade...The DOT, on the other hand, has not been updated by its publication source (the Department of Labor) since 1991.








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For the sake of clarity, SSDRC.com is not the Social Security Administration, nor is it associated or affiliated with SSA. This site is a personal, private website that is published, edited, and maintained by former caseworker and former disability claims examiner, Tim Moore, who was interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled "The Disability Mess" and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system.

The goal of the site is to provide information about how Social Security Disability and SSI work, the idea being that qualified information may help claimants pursue their claims and appeals, potentially avoiding time-consuming mistakes. If you find the information on this site helpful and believe it would be helpful to others, feel free to share links to its homepage or other pages on website resource pages, blogs, or social media. Copying of this material, however, is prohibited.

To learn more about the author, please visit the SSDRC.com homepage and view the "about this site" link near the bottom of the page.