Medical Records for Social Security Disability and SSI Cases
Applicants filing for Social Security Disability (SSD) or SSI benefits can help to speed the disability determination process along by gathering their own medical records and submitting them along with their initial application, rather than supplying only the required medical history.
Not only will the disability examiner appreciate the fact that the applicant saved him or her time tracking down the records from sources listed on the medical history, but he or she will also be more likely to give priority to the case in which medical records are supplied. A disability examiners' job performance is judged by the number of cases closed within a given evaluation period.
Of course, if a case looks like it will take less time to complete examiners are more likely to work on it first so that they can have as many closed cases as possible on record when they come up for evaluation.
While it is definitely in an SSD/SSI applicant's best interest to gather their own records at the initial Social Security Disability application stage of consideration, this task is best left in the hands of a qualified legal representative, either a disability attorney or non-attorney claimant's rep, if the case is being appealed.
This is because, at the appeal level, it becomes necessary to focus on why the case was initially denied; i.e., what may have been lacking in the medical evidence, and what is needed to prove disability as defined by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Someone with a background in Social Security administrative law will generally know how to best frame a case so that it meets the SSA definition of disability, and what records are most relevant to the case.
Also, physicians and clerks at medical facilities are more likely to respond quickly to a request for medical records when it is made by a legal professional rather than a patient. This is not really news to anyone'people respond to authority because it suggests the possibility of consequences if they do not.
Given the fact that statistics show claimants with legal representation are as much as 50 percent more likely to be awarded benefits from a disability judge, it only makes sense to make sure that you obtain legal counsel and put your attorney or legal rep in charge of your case, including gathering your medical 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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