Medical Records for Disability Hearings

Submitted by rsg on Mon, 05/16/2022 - 10:44

Many disability benefit applications are rejected initially and applicants are forced to appeal these decisions. The most common reason for a denied application is that the medical records and other evidence supplied is insufficient to convince the SSA that your case for a benefit is justified.

One of the first steps in an appeal is to request a disability hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). It makes sense to ensure you have a better collection of medical records for the hearing than were supplied with the original application.

What Medical Records Do I Need for my Hearing?

The medical records you need for your hearing must be enough to convince the ALJ that your disability meets the criteria for benefit approval. These records must be able to show that not only do you have a disability but the disability is severe enough to prevent you from gainful employment for at least the next 12 months.

The actual medical evidence you need depends very much on the specific disability you are filing a benefit claim for. Medical evidence for cancer, for example, is going to be different from a herniated disc or rheumatoid arthritis.

Medical records will inevitably be a mixture of doctors’ statements, medical history going back to when the symptoms of your disability first developed, assessment by specialists, surgery and other treatment, results of tests, scans and x-rays, medication prescribed and assessment of your future prognosis.

Medical records may be time prescribed, so you should obtain advice about the dates of medical records you need to ensure they meet the requirements of the SSA. The ALJ may have medical experts present at the hearing who may ask you questions about your medical history and therefore may need the records submitted in advance to scrutinize them.

How Your Doctor Can Help

Your doctor is an invaluable source of the medical evidence you need for your disability hearing. The longer your doctor has known you as a patient, the more useful their evidence. A clear statement from your doctor can outline the history of your condition and how it has become a disability. This sort of statement can accompany medical records obtained over the same period as well as evidence of diagnosis, treatment, surgery, tests and scans over the years.

Your doctor is also best placed to assess your fitness to continue working and can provide an opinion about the sorts of activities which you should still be able to do and what you would no longer be able to do because of your disability.

Even if your disability does not match the exact criteria listed in the SSA’s Blue Book, You may still qualify for a disability benefit if you can show that you cannot work for at least the next 12 months because of your symptoms. Your doctor can perform a residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment on you which is a series of physical tasks which assess your ability to stand, bend, lift and walk. This helps to define what sort of activities you can still do or not do.

Free Case Evaluation

Incomplete medical evidence is a common reason for a denied benefit application. You will need to make sure that you have more complete medical records if and when you attend a disability hearing. A disability attorney can help you compile a better medical record.

Complete the Free Case Evaluation on this page today to get connected with an independent, participating attorney who subscribes to the website.

Additional Resources

Add new comment