I have gotten several calls lately from people to whom Social Security sent letters. These letters ask the clients to provide the most current information regarding their medical treatment and work history. One section of the letter states that if the client provides this information, Social Security might be able to decide her case without going to a hearing. It seems like an answer to clients's prayers. So, they call me wanting to know if we should update the medical records.
The answer is no.
Just One More Form Letter
Unfortunately, the request-for-update letter is just one more form letter generated by a Social Security computer. No one looked at a claimant's file and reasoned that with just a little more information, Social Security could resolve the claim. The truth is, while a claimant is waiting for a hearing, no one is looking at it. Social Security cannot keep up with those cases that are scheduled for hearing. There is no way they are looking even older cases to see about deciding them.
No Need To Pay Twice For Your Medical Records
There are practical reasons to not update medical records when Social Security sends these letters. The request-for-update letter is the last one Social Security sends before scheduling a case for hearing. That's the good news. The bad news is that even after Social Security sends this letter, they are months away from putting a case on the calendar.
If a claimant went out and got all her recent medical records and sent them in, these records would be months out of date by the time of the hearing. That means the claimant would have to repeat the process of updating her medical records just prior to the hearing. Wasting time to do this would be bad enough. But most doctors want money, sometimes big money, for their medical records. Each time you request them, it means paying more. Consider also the VA: they will provide a veteran her records without charge once per year. If you take advantage of that prematurely, you are going to be stuck paying for records at the time of the hearing.
A Promise Of Not Needing A Hearing Is A Hoax
Social Security is engaging in a bit of con when they write to people to say that Social Security might not have to hold a hearing. They say that to get people to respond. But, Social Security knows that nothing is going to prevent the hearing from taking place. There is nothing a claimant can do to speed that process along.
If you get the request-for-update letter, do with it what you would with any form letter: throw it away.