Missing Medical Records for a Social Security Application

Can anything be done about missing medical records for a Social Security Disability application?

Ask a Disability Attorney: Q: What if I am missing medical records for my disability hearing?

Construction, Age 40
Social Security Disability Applications are only stronger with doctors care.

A: If you’re scheduled for a disability hearing for your Social Security disability case, chances are you’ve waited a long time to get there. When you finally get in front of a judge to make your case for disability, you want to make sure that the judge sees everything there is to see in your case; you want to make sure that all of your medical records are in front of the judge.

When you’re scheduled for a disability hearing, you’ll be provided with a copy of your file. Your file includes all of the medical records that will be discussed at your hearing and is usually provided to you in electronic format. If you don’t have access to a computer you can go to the hearing office in advance of your disability hearing to view the file. We recommend that you view your file around two months prior to your hearing. The reason for the early review is so you can identify which medical records may be missing from your file and so you can have time to request and receive those records prior to a hearing.

The medical records in your disability file are in the “F” section of the file and are labeled with the name of the medical provider and dates of first and last treatment. For example Dr. Johnson – 1/1/2012 -12/31/2012. So if you saw Dr. Johnson after 12/31/12, the Social Security hearing office is missing your more recent records since they only have records through that date. In addition to reviewing what records they have for treatment dates, you should also look for medical records that aren’t in the file. Once you’ve got a list of which records need updating and which are missing, you can get to work requesting the records.

Remember that the laws of most states entitle you to a free copy of your medical records.

Sometimes, due to no fault of your own, you’ll be unable to get all of the medical records prior to the hearing. Medical providers can sometimes give you quite a hassle about medical records and getting them on a deadline can be difficult. If this happens, don’t freak out. If you’re not going to get records in time for your hearing, write a letter to the judge assigned to your case detailing that records are missing and the efforts that you took to get them. Close the letter by asking for additional time “post-hearing” to provide the medical records and give the judge an estimated time frame as to when the records should are expected. Submit this letter to the judge a few days prior to your disability hearing. Take a copy of the letter to your disability hearing and remind the judge that you’ve requested time to provide the records. Just submitting the letter won’t be enough, you need to ask specifically for time to produce the documents.

Depending on how many records are missing the judge will likely either grant your request to provide the records after the hearing (you’ll usually be given two to four weeks – or more time if there are special circumstance), or if there are significant records missing, the judge may postpone your hearing so that the records can be received and reviewed before you try and make your case.


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