Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Social Security Administration (SSA) could move to tighten its rules requiring people applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits to present the government with medical information.
According to the Journal, the idea to request medical information came in a proposal published in the Federal Register, which claimed that there might currently be some disability law firms withholding medical information that may prove detrimental to a clients’ case.
“There have been allegations that when some representatives submit evidence to us, they deliberately withhold evidence they deem unfavorable to the claimant,” the SSA wrote in its proposal, according to the Journal. “We also know, based on our program experience, that we do not always receive complete evidence.”
The agency said its new proposal would require applicants to submit “all evidence known to you that relates to whether or not you are blind or disabled. This would include evidence that may be either favorable or unfavorable to your claim.”
The SSA reportedly said that the burden would be placed on the person applying for benefits to produce medical documents, not the person’s legal representative, if changes are made. During an SSDI appeal, an administrative law judge (ALJ) must collect a record of medical evidence needed to decide a case.
“Often, [ALJs] are under pressure to decide multiple cases a day and so they peruse whatever records are submitted by the person applying for benefits before making a decision. Judges can seek more information, but they often do not because they would have a hard time knowing which doctors or hospitals to subpoena if they wanted more files,” the Journal reported.
There have been disagreements in the legal community about whether lawyers should submit “all” evidence to judges or only supply them with evidence to help their clients win cases. Many lawyers say it is their ethical obligation to help their clients win a case, according to the Journal.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out. You should always be prepared to share your medical records during the SSDI process. In addition, if you have questions about the legal aspects of your application or appeal, you should contact our experienced disability lawyer.
If you have questions about your application for disability benefits, do not hesitate to contact us for a free evaluation of your case. You may also reach us by phone at (918) 265-1404.
Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security disability attorneys