What is Social Security’s process for reviewing medical records?


Social Security will attempt to get all of a claimant’s relevant records from every possible source of treatment. A social security disability examiner will send a Medical Evidence of Record (MER) letter to all treatment sources listed by the claimant upon filing their claim. Should the records from one medical provider mention another unlisted provider, Social Security will seek to get those records should they appear to be relevant (for example, if a physician references third-party imaging records [ex – MRI] when discussing a patient’s degenerative back problems).

The disability examiner will also evaluate all of the claimant’s mental health or treatment records after arrival at a facility, looking specifically for all evidence indicating limitations to mental functions.

In the bigger picture of reviewing records, the disability examiner is reviewing records to assess what effect an injury or condition has on a claimant’s ability to perform work functions. They are operating under the assumption that one must possess certain abilities to perform work activity. If these abilities don’t exist as a result of the claimant’s condition, OR if a claimant possess certain abilities to a lesser extent, then they will be considered to have functional limitations.