Collecting and reading your medical records is one of the best things you can do to help your case. Unfortunately, sometimes people have difficulty getting copies of their mental health records.
For physical health, doctors are legally required to release all your records to you. For mental health, the laws are trickier and in some cases the doctor’s office may not release your records to you directly for “your own protection.”
In some cases, you may just decide to make peace with this. If you have talked to your psych doctor and you feel confident that she believes you are disabled and completely supports your disability application, you may decide to just live without the written proof.
On the other hand, if you are scrappy and motivated, or if you are not really sure what your doc might be writing, here are some workarounds:
- You can try talking directly to your doctor instead of the office staff. The office staff may have a generic office policy not to release records to any patients. If you talk directly to your doctor and let her know why you would like the records and reassure her that you feel prepared and ready to read your records and would appreciate her help, she may make an exception and release them to you.
- You can try sending the records to a different doc. You can request that all your files be transferred to a different doctor. Then you can request your complete records from the new doctor and see if they will release everything to you.
- You can try getting your case file on CD from Social Security. Social Security probably should not be sending you your mental health records this way, but they don’t always have their act together there. Sometimes the CDs include all your psych records. Learn more
- You can try getting your case file from your lawyer. Depending on your lawyer, they may include the mental health records.
- You can try making a hippa request. In many states, mental health doctors are not required to release your psychiatric treatment notes, but they do have to release the other parts of your records. Can’t hurt to give it a try and see what happens.
- You can also try giving up. For some people, reading their psych records really is very upsetting or even harmful. If this might be you, it may be better to let this one go.
- Records can be expensive. Here’s some tips on How to Get Your Medical Records without Paying an Arm and a Leg
- For more tips on getting records, and how to make sure you get all your records, see: How to Collect All Your Medical Records (Keyword: All)
Updated April 2017 by Lily Silver. Please comment below with stories, questions, input or ideas. Please let me know if any links on this page stop working.