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For the federal disability retirement applicant, little is more important than providing to OPM (the Office of Personnel Management) medical records documenting disability. Medical Records are typically the linchpin of most applicants’ claims. Medical records are often the best documentation of an individual’s symptoms and limitations related to their medical problems.

You do have a right to your own healthcare records pursuant to federal law. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), 42 USC § 201 et seq., provides that an applicant should receive notice from their healthcare provider about whether their request for records was granted or denied within thirty days of any request for access to their medical records.

However, requesting and receiving medical records from physician’s offices tends to be easier said than done.  Many physicians’ offices fail to respond to requests in a timely manner, or not at all. Although many physicians’ offices fail to comply with the thirty day rule, applicants must proceed with caution and restraint. A physician’s support is critical to a disability claim and applicants may need their doctor’s expert help beyond the mere production of their medical records. Applicants may need their physician to write reports and fill out medical questionnaires or other forms. Therefore, always avoid a confrontational approach towards your physician and their staff. Remember – your physician’s office is a busy place. Patience and polite persistence are almost always more effective then accusations of violations of federal law.