Will a Disability Attorney in Florida Help You Obtain Your Medical Records?

Ideally, your disability representative, who can be an attorney or a non-attorney representative, should get his or her hands on all the medical evidence that's available in order to help bolster your claim for Social Security Disability or SSI. After all, disability claims are won on the basis of proving that a claimant has the sort of functional limitations (which can be mental or physical or both) that make it impossible to work and earn a substantial and gainful income. And functional limitations are borne out by what is indicated in the medical evidence.

Unfortunately, though many disability representatives will advance the cost of records (translation: pay for the medical records upfront and, later, when the case is done, ask you to reimburse them for the cost), not every disability representative, or disability lawfirm, or non-attorney representation company will do this.

Of course, having to pay the upfront costs for gathering records can be a significant burden for many claimants, particularly since the income and resources available to a person filing for disability is negligible at best and nonexistent at worst.

At the same time, however, for disability representatives in Florida who handle a large number of claims annually, with standing caseloads of several hundred cases, the cost for obtaining records can be significant. Nonetheless, how your prospective representative handles the acquisition of medical records may be a question that you wish to ask about before you actually sign an SSA-1696 form to authorize them to represent you and a fee agreement that entitles them to be paid from your backpayment should you win disability benefits.

In practically all cases, however, a disability representative that takes a case before a Social Security Judge will have prepared the case by obtaining medical record updates (from a claimant's medical treatment that has occurred after their last disability claim denial and up to the point at which the hearing occurs). Very often, the representative will also have obtained a statement from at least one of the claimant's medical treatment sources. This statement, in support of the case, can be referred to as an RFC, or residual functional capacity, statement, but it is more correct to call it a medical source statement.

Medical source statements obtained from physicians (and psychologists) can be instrumental in winning disability claims. Good statements will include the physician's opinion's regarding the claimant's current functional capacity and restrictions in a variety of functional areas (mental or physical).

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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