SSDI Appeals and Filing Fees
Medical Records and Disability Applications
O.C.G.A. Section 31-33-3
Filing Fees for Your SSDI or SSI Claim?
I sometimes receive phone calls from potential clients who are still working but who can foresee a time in the near future when their medical condition will force them to stop working. If you are like these folks, money is a major concern in your life - how will you survive if you stop working? A question that inevitably comes up - is there a filing fee to make a claim for Social Security disability?
No Filing Fee to Appeal a Disability Denial
Rest assured that there is no filing fee to file your claim for SSDI or SSI benefits. Anyone who tells you otherwise or who seeks to charge you for filing a disability claim is incorrect or dishonest.
It does not matter if this is your first claim for benefits or if you are re-filing after a denial - there is no filing fee.
Similarly, there is no fee to file an appeal of a denial. Since Social Security denies many claims at the initial application stage, there is a good chance that you will have to file an appeal - the first level of appeal is called the reconsideration appeal. If you are denied at reconsideration, you have to file a second appeal to request a hearing.
Costs Associated With Obtaining Medical
Records for Disability Application
I also take the position that you should have limited cost associated with obtaining medical records necessary to develop your file and pursue your claim.
Although the State Agency personnel who work on behalf of the Social Security Administration to develop your claim are charged with the responsibility for obtaining medical records to develop your claims file, as a practical matter you or your lawyer will have to take on some of this burden. Specifically, once you file your request for a hearing (usually about 1 year into your claim), you and your lawyer will have sole responsibility for updating the medical records in your file.
The Official Code of Georgia contains a Code Section that specifically addresses costs associated with the filing and appealing of disability applications. O.C.G.A. Section 31-33-3 sets out the permissible charges that doctor’s office and hospitals may charge for medical records. For example, a doctor’s office may charge up to $20 to conduct a search, 75 cents a page for the first 20 pages of a patient’s records, etc.
However, the last sentence of Section 31-33-3(a) provides as follows: this subsection shall not apply to records requested in order to make or complete an application for a disability benefits program.
In my opinion, this last sentence means that there should be no charge for medical records associated with a disability application. Most of the medical copying services used by doctors and hospitals within Georgia accept this argument. So, if you are not yet represented by me or any other disability lawyer and a medical copy service attempts to charge you for medical records associated with a disability application, you can cite Code Section 31-33-3 to avoid having to pay for your records.
Because of this Code Section, I rarely incur any case costs in disability cases handled in my office.
The Georgia Code Section about medical record costs only applies to medical providers within Georgia. If you have received medical treatment out of State, you may have to pay retrieval and copy charges for those records.
Certified Mail and SSDI Appeals
Finally, I recommend to my clients that we spend the money to send our appeal notices to Social Security by certified mail, return receipt requested. Social Security offices have been known to lose or misplace files and documents within those files. Several times a year, we avoid arguments with Social Security about missed appeal deadlines because we have proof in the form of a certified mail receipt that an appeal was filed timely.