For new applications, Social Security will collect your medical records for you. Unfortunately, it’s pretty common for records to mysteriously wind up missing.
If you have a lawyer, your lawyer may submit records for you. However, even with a lawyer records can go missing.
If you’d like to figure out exactly what is and isn’t in your file, and what may or may not be missing, here’s how you can do it:
🐤 You can call the person at Social Security who is handling your case. This person is usually called a Disability Examiner.
🐤 If you applied very recently you might not have a disability examiner yet. They will probably send you a letter with contact info about a month after you first apply.
🐤 If you have applied recently, it is not too late to collect and submit all your records yourself. From what I have seen, this can greatly improve your chances of getting approved: How to Handle Your Records (In the Ideal World)
🐤 If you don’t know who is handling your case, you can call and ask for the contact information for the person or office that has your file now.
🐤 When you call, you can politely thank your examiner for their time and ask if they would be willing to let you know which records they have received and which they are still waiting for.
🐤 If you want to do it the extra, extra good way: Before you call, you can try to write down a list of all important documents you hope will be there. This might include records from doctors, emergency rooms, hospitals, clinics, etc. If your examiner is willing, you can ask her to review your list with you over the phone and confirm what is in your file.
🐤 Make sure to ask about any specific documents that are important to you. For example, if you have an important letter or rfc form from your doctor, state the date of the letter and ask if that specific letter is there.
🐤 If it has been a while since you first applied, it may be helpful if you can check and confirm dates. Sometimes they will have records from your doctor from six months ago, but nothing current.
🐤 If you discover missing or incomplete records, you can offer to collect them yourself if possible. Please make sure you get the full records with treatment notes, not just the visit summaries (not just what you see online)
🐤 If you cannot collect records yourself or through a lawyer, you can try calling your doctor’s office with friendly reminders to send the files to Social Security and then confirming they have arrived.
🐤 If you are sending records in to Social Security, here’s your Handy-Dandy Guide to Submitting Records
Working With Your Disability Examiner
🐤 Your disability examiner may be overworked and cranky. Try to remain polite and helpful if you are able.
🐤 Your disability examiner is busy. Do not call constantly and do not call for no reason. Call at the beginning to make sure your records are complete, offer to help if they are not, and keep following up until you are sure they have all been received.
🐤 Once your records are complete and you have confirmed that they are all there, I would suggest to call about once every three months to check the status of your claim.
🐤 Your disability examiner may not return your phone calls. If they do not answer all your calls, this is normal. If they will not talk to you at all, or if you run into a real problem, you can try contacting your congressperson and asking them to call for you, or you can try calling the main number where this person works and request to speak to a supervisor to see if the supervisor can answer your questions.
🐤 Do not call the national 800 number – that number is almost never helpful.
If You Have a Lawyer or Representative
🐤 Your lawyer should be able to help you with collecting your records. However, there are no guarantees in this world. Many people with lawyers still wind up with missing medical records.
🐤 Your lawyer’s office should be able to tell you which records they submitted. This still won’t tell you what is in your file at Social Security, though.
🐤 Your lawyer cannot access your Social Security file electronically at this point. They know what they sent in, but they do not know any more than you do about what happened next. Calling your disability examiner yourself is the only way to know for sure.
🐤 Great job checking on all your records. Please come take a look at these other Golden Rules of Records