Medical evidence can make or break your disability claim. You may feel overwhelmed, trying to get all the appropriate records in front of the Disability Determination Services (DDS) staff though. Some doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare providers aren’t always as responsive to Social Security Administration (SSA) requests as they should be.
When medical practitioners don't submit crucial records on time, your claim for benefits could be delayed or even denied. Ensuring the SSA has everything it needs can be a hassle, but a disability attorney can help.
An attorney can coordinate with the DDS and your healthcare providers, acting as a go-between to resolve delays in communications and the submission of medical evidence. If a doctor, hospital, or other healthcare provider isn’t forthcoming with the necessary records, just a simple call from an attorney can spur them to action.
While you can also gather records personally and submit copies of these directly to the SSA or the DDS, you really don’t have to. During the disability application process, you’ll fill out forms that give the SSA and DDS permission to contact your medical care providers and request your records. The consent forms you sign allow the DDS to remove the burden of collecting medical evidence from your shoulders. Having an attorney act on your behalf alleviates that burden even further.
If for example, there is a hospital at which you had diagnostic tests performed, the DDS will likely need the results of those tests to evaluate your medical eligibility for disability benefits. Hospitals, especially ones that are understaffed, can sometimes run behind on processing medical record requests, even when those requests come from someplace like the SSA. Any delays in the submission of medical records by a healthcare provider can delay the processing of your disability claim significantly.
To complicate matters even further, if the DDS never receives important pieces of documentation, they may also be forced to try to fill in the gaps in your medical records in other ways. This may cause you to have to attend a consultative exam with a contracted physician.
This can in turn affect the outcome of your claim, because a contracted physician may not provide the same valuable evidence that your own doctors or specialists have within their files. After all, your physicians know you best. They understand precisely how your disability affects you every day and how it specifically compromised your ability to work and earn a living.
You can potentially avoid some of these issues, if you have an attorney on your side that can spur your healthcare providers to action and get your disability claim moving forward again. Likewise, your attorney can communicate directly with the DDS and SSA on your behalf. He or she can clarify the records required, learn about what may be causing delays with your claim, and can intervene as needed to address DDS concerns.
Living with a mental or physical impairment is challenging enough. Many applicants choose to minimize their involvement in the claims processes by working with a disability advocate or attorney for this very reason.