How do you begin to review your Social Security exhibit file? Here is a quick guide to finding the really important parts.
If you do not review anything else in the file, you need to know what medical records are there (and what records are missing).
Here is what I look for:
- Are all the doctors and hospitals listed? If the doctor or hospital is not listed, it is a safe bet that those records are not in the file. There are some exceptions to this. Occasionally, records are commingled, with more than one doctor’s records in one exhibit, but that is usually straightened out as the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) gets your exhibit file ready for the hearing.
- Are all all the dates of service complete? In the image above the records cover August 19, 2003 through November 13, 2003. If you know you treated with that doctor in 2004, you know the records are not complete.
- Do the number of pages look right? If you were treating with the same doctor for years and years, but Social Security only shows 12 pages, the records are probably not complete.
Then, start to review the actual records.
While a review of the exhibit list can help you quickly spot missing records or other problems, you really have to examine the records to find out what Social Security has (and what might be missing).
The F section of the file also has all the reports from any doctors Social Security sent you to. If you want to see what the consultative examiner had to say, now is your chance to find out!
You will also find the forms from the Social Security technicians describing what limitations they think you have. Social Security often uses this information in deciding your case, so you need to know what they are saying.