How to Collect Your Records through Social Security

Artwork: Robin Mead

Social Security will collect your medical records for you. Here’s how it works:

New Applications

📍Social Security will automatically collect your records for you for free. This sounds better than it is because it is common for records to be missed this way. Also, you will not be able to read the records until after a decision is made.

📍See tips below for how to check your file to see if anything is missing.


📍You can contact you local Social Security office and ask for a copy of your case file on CD. The records Social Security has collected may (but usually won’t) be your complete records. If any are missing, you can collect and submit them yourself, or you can contact the person handling your case and request they be collected.

📍Social Security usually will not collect your new records during reconsideration, it is best if you can collect and send them yourself. If not, you can try staying in touch with the person who is handling your case to make sure they get collected.

Appeals (early)

📍After you request an appeal, you can contact your local Social Security office and ask for your case file on CD. This will include all the records they have so far.

Appeals (later)

📍A few months before your hearing, you will be assigned to a judge’s office. This is called ODAR. At this point, you can request that Social Security request your records for you. Contact the judge’s office and ask for release forms.

📍After the records are collected, contact the office again, and request a copy of your case file on CD. You will be able to see everything they collected on the CD.

📍If you are working with a lawyer, Social Security will not give you a copy of your CD. You would get this from your lawyer.


📍It’s very important that you give Social Security full and complete contact information as much as you are able. Give them phone, fax, and mailing address for for every doctor, every specialist, every hospital, every lab test, every emergency room visit and every clinic you have been to since getting sick.

📍It can also be a great help to collect records from other sources. You may be able to find good records from home care agencies, vocational rehabilitation, medical treatment in jails and community corrections, and school records on disability accommodations. If you had disability-related problems at your last job, records from your job can also help.

📍It is also a super big help if you can Check What is (and isn’t) in Your Social Security File. If you find anything is missing, you can collect and submit it yourself, or you can work with Social Security and your doctor to make sure it gets sent in.

📍If you discover that some records are missing and want to collect them yourself. How to Collect Your Records Your Own Damn Self

I Got My Records! Now What?

📍Once you’ve obtained copies of your records, be sure to review them carefully.

📍If you find any important errors, you’ll want to try to correct them immediately.

📍If you collected any records yourself, be sure to submit them to Social Security. Please do it the right way to avoid heartache later. How to Submit

📍If you find that your doctor is not accurately representing your illness in your medical records, you may want to consider your options.

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. 📍

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