When you apply for Social Security Disability or file for reconsideration, the disability examiner is responsible for obtaining your medical records. However, when you request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), it is usually no longer up to them to obtain updated records. This responsibility falls on you, and the timing of when you obtain these records is very important.
Our disability attorneys discuss the types of records you need below, when to request them and why working with a disability lawyer is in your best interest. For assistance with your disability claim, contact us today for a free, no obligation consultation.
Records You Need
Your medical records are very important for your disability claim. They show when your diagnosis occurred and that you currently have the disability.
Before your hearing, gather your necessary medical records – do not expect the Social Security Administration (SSA) to have done this for you. While recent medical records are usually obtained by the initial claims examiner, older records are not typically gathered and new records are not gathered once a claim is transferred to the hearing office.
Review the records already gathered in your disability case to find out which records are missing. Ask the SSA what is the last date on the records they have – this will help you narrow down the period for which you need to request records, simplifying your efforts and helping you reduce the charges for record copying.
Timing Your Request for Records
To ensure you have copies of your medical records for your hearing, be sure to request them from your medical providers prior to the hearing date. Since 2017, the hearing office is required to provide 75 days' notice prior to your hearing.
This period is typically enough time to get your records, but do not wait until the last minute because your medical office may not be able to accommodate late requests. However, you do not want to request records too soon, because they might be somewhat outdated when they are reviewed by the ALJ.
Statement by Your Doctor
Statements from your doctors are very valuable as evidence in your hearing. Ask your doctor to write a statement for you. This medical source statement should be detailed and include the exact work activities you are unable to perform, known as functional limitations.
Instead of a letter, your doctor may also fill out a Residual Functional Capacity form. Request this well before your hearing, as it is a lengthy form and will take some time for your doctor to complete and return. Inform your doctor and medical office staff that you have filed a disability claim to help ensure the form is completed in a timely manner.
Benefits of Working with a Lawyer
Disability claims are denied for many different reasons, one often being incomplete medical evidence. When you work with an experienced Phoenix Social Security Disability lawyer, he or she knows exactly what records and other evidence are needed to support your claim and possibly help improve your chances of being approved for benefits.
If new evidence is required in your case, your attorney will gather and submit the necessary evidence at the appropriate stage of the appeals process.
It is an attorney's job to evaluate your claim, identify weaknesses and work to strengthen your claim. Working with a skilled attorney is very helpful from the beginning of the disability process, not just in the appeals stage.
At a hearing with an ALJ, your attorney is able to represent you and your claim to the ALJ. He or she knows the types of documentation and evidence the ALJ typically looks for and will work to build a strong case with evidence that supports your disability and qualifications for benefits.
Contact Our Disability Lawyers Now
Our disability attorneys have helped many people access the benefits they deserve – let our team investigate your claim and help you access the maximum compensation you need.
Request a free, no obligation consultation today. There are no upfront fees to pay and you only pay us if we recover compensation for you.