Q & A: How important is it for me to keep my Social Security file up to date with new medical records?
Posted Jan 15 2010 11:56am
Hello and welcome to the 6th installment of my Q & A series, which is designed to cover some of the more elusive topics associated with the Social Security Disability claims process. In this post, I discuss the importance of keeping your disability case file up to date with new medical records as your claim progresses.
I recently applied for disability. Outside of the medical information that I provided in the initial application, how important is it that I continue to supplement my file while awaiting for a decision?
Medical evidence is critical in determining whether an individual will receive disability or not. You, the claimant, and/or your representative are charged with the responsibility of providing medical evidence that substantiates your claim for disability and/or proves the nature and severity of your impairment. In some cases, the SSA will help claimants obtain medical reports if the claimant has given the SSA prior permission to do so.
A word of caution: in my opinion it is better for you to provide the medical records to the SSA instead of having them request them. By doing so, not only will you have proof that you provided the SSA with your most current medical records, but you will also be able to review what documents the SSA has and is evaluating. In either case, though, there are advantages and disadvantages. For example, if you or your attorney end up requesting the medical records, there may be a cost, so be prepared.
In addition to the medical records that already exist in your file, it is IMPORTANT that you continue to supplement your file EACH TIME that you visit a doctor, specialist, counselor, etc. Remember, even if you receive a denial on your application, continue to supplement your record while you go through the appeals process. A good practice is always to request a copy of your medical records immediately at the conclusion of your doctor’s visit. Politely explain that you are in the process of applying for disability and that you need your medical records in order to supplement your file. Some individuals request their medical records once a month if they visit the same doctor weekly or bi-weekly. When receiving your medical records from any source, always make at least two (2) copies. This will allow your representative to have a copy to work from as well as provide you with an additional copy. By having an extra copy available, you will prevent incurring additional costs in the event that you need copies later.