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Your Medical Evidence

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SSDRC Disability Blog

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.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Related pages:

How long for a disability judge to make a decision?
While you are in your disability interview
The SSD and SSI definition of disability
How many hours can you work if you are receiving social security disability?
Decisions on disability applications, fully and partially favorable
How do you get Social Security Disability?
How to file for disability in Rhode Island
Dire Need and Getting a Social Security Disability or SSI Case Speeded Up
Applying for disability with bipolar
How to file for disability in Missouri
Will taking medicine affect your disability case?
What do you get when you pay for a disability attorney?
Can I afford a disability attorney for my claim?
Social Security Disability Children Benefits
Allodynia and Filing for Disability

Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

These pages provide answers to basic questions about pursuing disability benefits

Getting a disability approval
How to appeal disability denial
Disability hearing results
Helpful tips for going to social security disability hearing
SSDI hearing decision
Denied social security disability now what
Social security disability appeal status
Social security disability appeal attorney fees
I was denied social security disability for the 2nd time
What happens after a disability hearing has been held
How long does a Social Security Disability judge have to make a ruling?
The Social Security Disability Blue book
How to get an SSDI reconsideration approved?
Conditions that get approved for disability
Social security disability back pay status
Denied social security disability appeal
What to say at a disability hearing
Filing for disability with fibromyalgia
Tips for applying for disability