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Brain tumor can I review my SSDI file before my hearing?

It’s not uncommon for many disability applicants to appear before the administrative law judge without a thorough understanding of the disability approval process, including the importance of their SSDI file. Unfortunately, this can be a critical mistake; one which can lead to an unnecessary denial. disability-legal-help Recently on our disability forum a user asked, “I have applied for SSDI benefits because of a brain tumor. I have a disability hearing scheduled in 2 months. Can I review my SSDI file before my hearing? If so, how do I get a copy of my disability file?”

Requesting a copy of your SSDI file

The Social Security Administration will make the disability determination about your SSDI case by reviewing your medical records. Incomplete or inaccurate medical records, as well as insufficient medical evidence to prove your case, can lead to a denial, even if you really are disabled and unable to work. The first step to improving your disability case is to understand what is in your SSDI file and what additional medical evidence you might need to prove you are disabled and unable work. If you have hired a disability lawyer the SSA will send them a copy of your SSDI file, and they can help ensure you have the appropriate information to win your case. If you do not have a lawyer, however, you can also request a copy of your SSDI file from the SSA. To make your request you will need to contact the SSA. They will have an electronic version of your file which they may be willing to send to you. You may also pay to have the file copied for you.

Reviewing your SSDI file for your hearing

After you receive your SSDI file you will need to review it for errors. The file is divided into several sections which are called the exhibit list. The exhibit list will contain your medical records, information about your disability determination, explanation of the determination, information about your work history, and a residual functional form, which outlines your remaining mental or physical capability to work. Unfortunately, your SSDI file may be difficult to understand and interpret. This is why hiring a lawyer may be very beneficial for your case. Disability lawyers have reviewed dozens of disability files and can generally determine if information is missing. If you do not have a lawyer, however, you  can also perform the review on your own. What information do I review? All of the information should be reviewed, but the most critical information is your medical information. It is imperative this information is accurate and conclusive prior to your hearing. For example, when you receive your disability file make sure there is information from each of your treating doctors and that they provided information about all of the disabilities you have listed on your SSDI application. Medical information should also be legible, and any information which hurts your claim should be countered by additional medical information. For instance, if one of your doctors states that you can do certain types of work (i.e., light work), you will need additional information from other doctors to counter this claim. Finally, make sure there is information about any medical tests which have been completed. For example, if you have a severe back condition you will need x-rays, a CT scan, or an MRI. Sufficient testing must be done to determine if your condition and symptoms are as severe as a listed condition on the SSA Listing of Impairments or to prove that you do not have the residual functional capacity to work. Recent articles Heart failure and chance of winning before the ALJ?