If you are suffering from a severe physical and/or mental condition that has a major impact upon your ability to work, you may want to consider applying for social security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits. When reviewing your SSDI application, the social security administration (SSA) will analyze how your condition impacts your ability to work. The SSA does this by reviewing your medical records. Oftentimes, your medical records are what delay your disability application status. Here’s why.
Medical evidence is the main player in determining an individual’s disability. This evidence can include physician examinations and treatment notes, mental health records, laboratory testing, imaging studies including MRIs, CT scans, x-rays, etc. There is a long list of what counts as medical evidence. The bottom line is to win your disability claim, you need to see your doctor on a regular basis so as to ensure sufficient medical evidence for your SSDI application.
One thing to keep in mind is that the SSA will only consider recent medical evidence. Meaning, medical evidence from the time you stopped working through the present. What the SSA will not consider are medical records from 20 years ago, or medical records during a time that you were able to work. The SSA will not go through your “entire” medical history. Typically, the SSA will consider medical records one year prior to your alleged onset date.
Accurate, Legible, Accessible Doctor’s Notes
Another thing to keep in mind is to make sure your doctor is taking accurate notes. This may sound absurd, but you would be surprised to learn what the doctor says to you verbally in your visit is not what he/she transcribes in his/her notes. Sometimes the notes can be as limited as to say what your diagnosis is and outline a plan or recommendation, leaving out the actual examination the doctor performed of you. This is the most important part of the record for social security disability purposes. The examination, whether physical or mental, is where the SSA finds your limitations. So, while it is important to go to the doctor to build your medical file, it is also just as important to make sure your doctor is properly documenting your condition to prevent a delay in your disability application status.
A third thing to keep in mind is whether your doctor is keeping legible notes. Again, this is not something you would generally consider. But if your doctor is keeping handwritten notes that are difficult to decipher, the SSA will not be able to use those notes in reviewing your SSDI application. No matter how good you think your treatment with the doctor is, if the notes are illegible, they simply will not help your claim. So, make sure your doctor is typing or transcribing his/her notes, rather than keeping them handwritten.
A final thing to keep in mind is how difficult it is for your doctor to release his/her treatment notes. Some physicians refuse to release treatment notes without a subpoena, while other doctors take three to five months to release their notes, and still others charge a fee to release treatment notes. It is certainly worth asking at your next doctor visit how you should go about obtaining a copy of your treatment notes to prevent any delay in your disability application status. The sooner you are able to get a copy of those notes to the SSA, the sooner the SSA will be able to review them. This is not to say if you send your medical file to the SSA tomorrow that the organization will make a decision by the end of the week. But it will certainly cut out some of the wait time if you submit your medical records to the SSA as soon as possible.
If you are having difficulty obtaining medical treatment, but think you have a condition that prevents you from working, contact LaBovick Law Group and we will discuss your situation with you. Or, if you are simply having difficulty with your SSDI application, we can help with that too!