Overview of Disability

Disability Back Pay

Disability Requirements

Disability Applications

Disability Advice Tips

How long do cases take?

How to win Disability

SSD Mistakes to avoid

Disability for Mental

What if you get denied?

How to file Appeals

Disability through SSA

SSI Disability Benefits

Disability for Children

How do I qualify for it?

Working and Disability

Disability Award Notice

Disability Lawyer Q&A

Disability Conditions List

What is a disability?

Your Medical Evidence

Filing for your Disability

Disability Eligibility

SSD SSI Definitions

Recent Questions

SSDRC Disability Blog

Should you Look at the Disability File that Social Security has on You?

In many cases, it will be debatable as to whether or not claimants will be able to extract much useful information from reviewing their own file. This is because, unlike a disability examiner or a field office CR (CR stands for claims rep and claims reps are the individuals who take both social security retirement and disability claims at social security offices), or a disability attorney, the average claimant will probably have difficulty interpreting the information in the file.

And, in fact, without an understanding of the medical vocational disability rules used by social security examiners (and social security administrative law judges), it would be difficult to fully understand how a decision even gets made, let alone whether or not a mistake was made on a case, or if the decision is procedurally incorrect or if there is an evidentiary error.

However, having said this, the two facts still remain:

A. Claimants are always allowed to view the information contained in their file and even receive a copy of their file on disc simply by making a request for this information.

B. The information in the claimant's disability file CAN allow them to gain more of an understanding as to what previously happened in the processing of their claim.

Regarding B, for example, a claimant whose case has gone through the disability application and reconsideration appeal stages can, before the case gets to an administrative law judge hearing, find out the following by reviewing their file:

1. What evidence was gathered by the social security administration (SSA) via the disability examiner. By doing this, the claimant can also check to see whether or not all the evidence from a particular medical source was actually gathered, or even if entire sources of treatment were omitted and, as a result, were not part of the evaluation process.

2. How their past jobs were classified by the disability examiner. How the disability examiner classifies these job depends largely on the information provided by the claimant at the time they file for disability, but it also depends on the examiner matching the claimant's description of their job along with the job titles listed in something known as the DOT, or dictionary of occupational titles.

How a job is classified can be extremely important since, along with the job title, there will also be A) a rating of the requirements of the job and B) the skill level that goes with the job. The physical and mental requirements of the job and the skill level can set the stage for a case being denied on the basis of the claimant being able to do their past work, or being denied on the basis of being able to do some type of other work. And this is why proper classification can be crucial. However, sometimes disability examiners misidentify a job.

By reviewing the medical evidence that was previously considered by a disability examiner, and by looking at how past work was evaluated, a claimant can gain at least some understanding of what happened on their case. It can also allow a claimant to have a more detailed discussion regarding their claim when they decide to speak with a disability lawyer about handling their case either on the request for a reconsideration, or on the request for hearing before an administrative law judge.

Note: Claimants whose cases were based entirely, or in part, on a mental allegation (such as depression or bipolar disorder) will not be given the opportunity to review their mental medical records. This is because SSA has taken the position that it may not necessarily be in the claimant's best interests to read what their counselor or psychiatrist has written about their condition.

So, for example, if a claimant is sent to a mental CE (a consultative examination that usually involves assessing a mental status, performing a full psychiatric evaluatation, or doing memory or intelligence testing), they will not be able to obtain a copy of the report, though it can be sent to their treating physician and that person can choose what to divulge or not divulge to the claimant.

Likewise, if the claimant requests a copy of their file on disc, they will receive all portions of the file except those medical records that are related to mental treatment.

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

Related pages:

Should you Look at the Disability File that Social Security has on You?
How do I apply for a Social Security disability widow’s claim?
Who handles my case if I apply for Social Security disability?
Social Security Disability Application Online
Can I apply for disability online?
Can I Collect Unemployment While I File For Disability Benefits (SSD or SSI)?
What medical conditions can you apply for disability for?
To Apply For SSI or SSD Disability Benefits, Where do I Start?
When You Apply For Disability, write Down Everything That Is Wrong With You
When I Apply For Disability, Should I List My Old Meds From Years Ago?
When I Apply for Disability - Should I apply for social Security disability or SSI?
What happens if you are working when you file for disability or work after you apply?
If Social Security Turns Down My Case Can I apply For Disability A Second Time?
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?

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

Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria