How to Collect All Your Medical Records (Keyword: All)

Robin Mead

Getting your records is great! Reading your records is great! Checking your records is great! Correcting your records is great!

If you are able, you want to do any and all of these things.

Whatever you do, never ever assume your lawyer is collecting all your records. Also, never ever assume Social Security is collecting all your records.

Many people assume these things and many people regret assuming these things.

Three Ways To Collect Records

Collect Records through Social Security (Appeals Only)

Collect Records Through Your Lawyer

Collect Records Your Own Damn Self

Psych Records

Sometimes it is harder to get mental health records:

Tips to Getting Mental Health & Psych Records

Why Bother?

Good question:

Why Do I Need to Collect My Medical Records?

Saving Money

When you request your records, you will be asked to pay for them. Here’s a tip: If you are not being asked to pay this is not good! They probably are not giving you your full records with all treatment notes.

Save Money on Medical Records

Secret Records

Please do not read your records online and do not read anything that says “visit summary.” You need your full records with treatment notes.

How Cherry Blossom Found Secret Medical Records

What Do Doctors Put in Treatment Notes?

All Records

Make sure to get every record by directly contacting from every different lab, clinic, specialist, or hospital. Your doctor’s office most likely will not provide this. They may only provide their own records.

Having Problems With Collecting Your Records?

Here’s a wonderful article by Erin Gilmer on solving issues with records. Please read if you are having any of these problems: Trouble Getting all your records, Taking forever to get your records, Can’t Get Radiology images, Getting records the way you asked for them (CD, email, paper), Doctor’s Office insisting a patient pick up records in person, Doctor’s withholding records until payment, Correcting records, Wanting to Email instead of using portals, Concerns about retaliation

Solving Common HIPAA Issues

Reading Your Records

Reading your records is one of the most important things you can do to help your disability case. It is literally the only way you can know for sure what your doctor is writing.

Dahlia Finds a Surprise in Her Medical Records

Ten Stories That Will Make You Want to Read All Your Medical Records Right Now

What Do I Do If I Find Something Wrong in My Medical Records?

Tips from Amaryllis

“I gathered all my records and had every record sent to my assigned worker at Social Security. I got not only the radiology reports but all of the images, x-rays, MRIs, and CTs on four disks. 

“In addition to all of the records that I personally  submitted, I also had the hospital systems send the complete record an all images and test results. Surgical notes, in particular, seemed to be left out of the record the hospital sends so make sure to ask for them.

“If you gather and send all of your own medical records to social security, you will usually find higher success on the first try and a faster response.

“Social Security will also request your medical records, but let’s be real, they are slow and suck at it and do not always get them all. Gather and send all your medical records yourself.”

“Every single time I had a medication change, no matter how small, I had the pharmacy print it out and faxed it over. Every time I got a consult with a new doctor or any appointment with primary care, the records were sent.

“Each time anything got sent to Social Security, I called and emailed my worker immediately to make sure she got it all.”

Amaryllis is a former Social Worker who became disabled herself. Read her story here:

Social Security Disability Tips from a Former Social Worker



19 thoughts on “How to Collect All Your Medical Records (Keyword: All)”

  1. Hello,
    I am in the beginning stages of preparing to apply. I have 2 Drs that seem to not want to go through all the work to give me all of my records but rather send it when they are asked by the government worker. I don’t want to make them angry since I need their help so do I push for my records, or do I just apply without sending them and “trust” they are getting there?


      1. For one of the Drs. the office staff handling it, the guy is cranky and seems very put out by it. So, I initially told him I would like all my records and he said I didn’t need them he would take care of it when they got requested, and he knows what he is doing. I’m not sure how to ask again without making him mad, knowing I need his help moving forward.


        1. You have a right to request your records. You will be charged for them.

          You can just ask him for a form to request your records. It’s not a personal favor and you don’t have to explain yourself. You can just ask for the form. 🙂


            1. Hello again,
              Although all my providers agreed to giving me my records I still haven’t gotten them. What time frame do you think is appropriate to give them? Is it vital that I get them all and do it this way, or should I apply anyway without records and get the process moving?
              Thank you for your help!


              1. HI Stacey,

                I believe the HIPPA laws have a guideline on how long they have to release your records… if you made your request in writing.

                You can definitely start your application without your records. Social Security will always attempt to collect them themselves, whether or not you send them in.

                Sometimes they don’t get everything, so if you wish, you can try staying in touch with disability examiner to see what they did and didn’t get.

                It’s still wonderful to get all your records so you know what your doctor is writing though 🙂


                Liked by 1 person

  2. I became chronically ill about 3 years ago and have seen many doctors in that time (at least 30 but probably more, I have stopped counting) many of which were specialists who I only saw for specific testing or consultations and then never saw again. If the results of those tests were normal, do I still need those medical records for my disability application? Also, I know many doctors in my history have either disagreed on what my diagnosis should be (one wanted to label me with conversion disorder, another wanted to blame my antidepressants for all of my symptoms and said I just needed more antidepressants, another wanted to blame it on me not being on ENOUGH antidepressants, and finally the doctor I am seeing now has said that doctors may never know what I have but that she understands my symptoms are debilitating and recommended I apply for disability. Do I need medical records from doctors in my past who misdiagnosed me and from my doctor who diagnosed me with POTS but disagreed with me being disabled? I am super worried getting medical records from so many doctors, many of which disbelieved how sick I was because I was so young, will hurt my case instead of help it even though I have a wonderful medical team now who agrees I am disabled! Any guidance would be nice and I’m sorry this is so long!


    1. On the application, it asks you when you became too disabled to work. Social Security usually collects records leading up to that date… one year for physical health and two years for mental health.

      If your records indicate that you weren’t disabled in the past, Social Security might change your onset date to the date when your records start showing that you were disabled.


  3. thank you so much for this site. What a treasure trove of information! This is priceless as I am battling my private disability insurance provider to continue my long-term disability.


  4. Is this still accurate? I tried to give them my documents and he kept insisting that they are all electronic. He wouldn’t take any of them the first time. Then I called and told him about how my doctor had just marked permanently disabled on a form I needed and he accepted some documents then….Now I’m confused on if I should be getting them.
    It talks about a paperwork reduction act and when I went in he actually scanned everything into the computer and handed me my papers back. The medical decision office is separate from the downtown location, but only 20-30 min away. It was the same caseworker that originally helped me and he specifically had me come to him so he could make sure they were in the right chart.

    He’s been super sweet. I felt great after meeting him, but not so great after reading some things from a facebook group. I can’t even remember what I put in my application….I have so many things!

    For future documents do you suggest sending them to my initial location? I don’t know any case worker names at the location down the street. Should I still try to send my medical records. It’s been 1 month.


  5. Great information. Lately, I have been wondering about my records. I know something changed in my medical care over the past ten years. It was odd. It has been bad in general. Prior to that, it was perfect. I keep thinking my records may show what this is. Your blog has helped me make up my mind to do something.
    Thank you,


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