Social Security Disability Definitions
Social Security Disability and SSI Overview
The Requirements for Disability
Social Security Disability and SSI Applications
Tips and Advice for Disability Claims
How long does Disability take?
Common Mistakes after Receiving a Disability Denial
Social Security Disability and SSI Denials
Social Security Disability and SSI Appeals
Social Security Mental Disability Benefits
Disability Benefits offered through Social Security
Benefits through SSI disability
Disability Benefits for Children
Disability Qualifications and How to Qualify
Social Security Disability and Working
Winning your Disability Benefits
Social Security Disability Back Pay Benefits
Social Security Disability SSI Awards and Award Notices
Disability Lawyers and Hiring an Attorney
Social Security Disability SSI List of Conditions
What is considered a Disabling condition by Social Security?
Social Security Disability SSI and Medical Evidence
Filing for Disability Benefits
Eligibility for Disability Benefits
SSDRC authored by Tim Moore
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The Psychologist Exam for Social Security Disability and SSI Claims
Those who file for Social Security Disability with an alleged mental condition (physical and mental impairments listed on disability applications are classified as “allegations” until the examiner has decided the claim) are often sent for a mental consultative examination (CE).
Mental consults are like physical consultative exams in that they are used by disability examiners to help establish the claimant’s current medical state. Oftentimes, it is the case that those with mental disorders have received little if any medical treatment for their condition, so it’s difficult for a disability examiner to determine the nature and scope of the impairment and how it affects the claimant’s ability to work.
Before a disability examiner can make a decision on a claim for SSD or SSI, he has to have recent medical evidence; Social Security has defined “recent” as within the past three months. However, even if you have had medical treatment for a mental condition within this timeframe, the examiner can order a mental exam for further clarification.
The scope of a mental consultation is narrow, and does not include the evaluation of any physical symptoms, such as pain, inability to lift, bend, drive, etc. Instead, the mental consult is used to determine such things as memory function (the memory scale exam), impaired cognitive function (IQ tests, concentration tasks, etc.), and social skills (ability to function in a social or work environment).
Psychological exams are usually performed by psychologists with independent practices who do not work for the Social Security Administration, but who have signed a contract to perform mental exams for the SSA. Mental exams, like physical consultative exams, are usually brief, and their findings alone will not determine the approval or disapproval of a claim.
However, they can be very influential to the disability examiner deciding the case, and for this reason it is important that those who are scheduled for a mental exam make every effort to attend, or to notify the Social Security office as soon as they become aware of a schedule conflict.
If you are able to gather medical records for your mental (or physical) medical condition and provide them to Social Security up front (which could mean supplying them at the time of application, or delivering them to a disability examiner after the claim has been initiated), it can make the process run more smoothly and efficiently, and could mean a faster turnaround on a decision in your case.
Disability examiners sometimes request medical records several times before receiving them, and in a very few cases the records are simply not given to the examiner unless the patient himself picks them up and hand-delivers them to the local Social Security office.
Return to: Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions
Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:
Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI
These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.
Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria