Consultative Exams and Social Security Disability Cases

The evaluation process is crucial when applying for Social Security Disability benefits. A vital component of this process is the consultative examination (CE), a medical exam requested by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to obtain additional information about your disability. Here’s a deeper dive into CEs, their types, and how to prepare for them.

What are Consultative Exams?

Consultative Exams (CEs) can be a part of the evaluation process for Social Security Disability. They are generally used  to provide the Social Security Administration (SSA) with another opinion about your physical and/or mental health condition(s). 

  • Purpose: To assess the severity and impact of your medical conditions on your ability to perform work-related activities. To verify or clarify information found in your medical records or highlight the progression of your medical condition.
  • Payment and Scheduling: SSA is responsible for all costs associated with the CE, ensuring no financial burden falls on the claimant. SSA will schedule the appointment and notify you by mail of the date and time of the appointment..
  • Types of Exams:
    • Physical Exams: These assess physical impairments that might limit your physical abilities, such as walking, sitting, lifting, and carrying. During a physical CE, the doctor may perform various tests to evaluate your range of motion, muscle strength, and reflexes.
    • Psychological Exams: These are aimed at evaluating mental, intellectual, or emotional conditions that might affect one’s ability to work. These exams can include interviews, questionnaires, and standardized tests to assess memory, reasoning, comprehension, and emotional stability.
  • Additional Considerations:
    • The examiner conducting the CE may not necessarily specialize in your disability. However, SSA contracts them for their general expertise in evaluating the impact of medical conditions on workability.
    • It is vital to understand that the doctor or psychologist performing the CE is not a treating physician but rather an independent evaluator. Their role is not to provide medical advice or treatment but to objectively assess your condition for SSA.
    • You have the right to request a copy of the CE report from SSA after the examination, which can benefit your records and any further appeals or hearings related to your disability claim.

Physical Consultative Exams:

  • Process: Expect a routine physical examination, where the doctor assesses your range of motion, strength, and task ability. The exam often includes completing questionnaires about your medical history and current condition.
    • Preparation:
      • Attendance: Attending your scheduled exam is crucial to avoid negative impacts on your claim.
      • Documentation: Bring a list of your medications, including dosages and prescriber information. If you’re experiencing symptoms like swelling, be prepared to discuss these with the examiner.

Psychological Consultative Exams:

  • Process: These exams focus on your mental health, assessing cognitive functions and emotional well-being through interviews and standardized tests.
    • Preparation:
      • Bring a Companion: Having a friend or family member who understands your condition can provide additional insights to the examiner.
      • Medications: Bring a list of your medications, including dosages and prescriber information. Be sure to take your prescribed medications as usual before the appointment, especially those that aid concentration and focus.

After the Exam:

  • The examiner will send a report to SSA detailing their findings, which SSA’s in-house medical team will consider alongside your medical records.

Tips for Your Consultative Exam:

  • Be Honest and Detailed: Provide accurate information about your symptoms and limitations.
  • Compliance: Attend your scheduled exam and cooperate fully to avoid delays or denials based on non-compliance.
  • Follow Medication Routines: Ensure you’re observed in your typical, medicated state unless instructed otherwise by SSA or your healthcare provider.

Contact an Experienced Social Security Disability Attorney in Georgia

Consultative exams are a pivotal part of the Social Security Disability benefits application process. They offer SSA a clearer picture of your condition and its impact on your daily life and work capabilities. Preparing adequately for these exams can significantly influence the outcome of your claim.

For more assistance or to discuss your disability case, please contact us. At Burgess & Christensen, we’re dedicated to supporting you through the SSD application process, ensuring you’re well-prepared for every step, including your consultative exam. Call us today at 770-422-8111 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.