Lack of Medical Records Delays Disability Hearings

An ALJ needs to see a doctor's report that's no older than 60 days.

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When the "medical development" of a disability case has been completed by the day of the ALJ hearing, the ALJ (administrative law judge) can usually render a decision much faster than a disability examiner at Disability Determination Services (DDS). What do we mean by medical development? Basically, this refers to the gathering of medical records. It is the job of the disability claims examiner at DDS to request medical records from your doctors. 

In most cases, however, an applicant has new medical records by the time the hearing occurs. Since it takes many months to get a hearing, your condition may have changed or worsened since your initial application was filed, and an ALJ cannot make a decision without current medical records (to make sure you are still unable to work).

You should submit any new medical records, treatment notes, and test results to the administrative law judge prior to the hearing. Unfortunately, many applicants who are not represented by a disability lawyer or representative at a hearing aren't even aware that their most recent medical records should have been submitted to the ALJ (if you are represented, your lawyer or representative will perform this function for you).

In situations where not all the medical records requested by you or your representative have arrived by the time of a hearing, a judge will usually acquiesce to holding the record open to allow for the receipt of these records. A judge may also hold a case open if it is decided that an applicant should be sent to a consultative examination. However, this means you'll need to wait to have another hearing date scheduled.

Learn more about the medical records required to win disability.

Updated by: , J.D.

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