SSDRC authored by Tim Moore
Social Security Disability and SSI Questions and Answers
What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?
How do you Win Benefits under Social Security Disability or SSI?
If I am determined disabled, how far back will Social Security pay benefits?
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition?
What Can I Do to Improve My Chances of Winning Disability Benefits
Common Mistakes after Receiving a Denial of Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits
How to File for Disability - Tips for Filing
If You Get Approved For SSDI Will You Also Get Medicare?
How much does a Social Security disability attorney get paid?
Social Security Disability SSI Criteria and the Evaluation Process
How long does it take to be approved for SSI or Social Security disability?
What do you Need to Prove to Qualify for Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability SSI and Fibromyalgia
Social Security Disability SSI and Degenerative Disc Disease
Can I Qualify For Disability and Receive Benefits based on Depression?
More questions about SSD and SSI
What Disabilities Qualify for SSI and Social Security Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability Status
Social Security Disability Tips — how a claim gets worked on
Social Security Disability, SSI Disability - Terms, Definitions, Concepts
Do the Results of the Social Security Psychological Exam have any Bearing on Being Approved?
How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits
Actually, the results of a consultative examination (a social security medical exam) that is mental in nature will have a much better chance of having a positive impact on the outcome of a Social Security Disability claim or SSI disability claim. I say this from my perspective of being a former disability examiner at DDS (disability determination services) where claims are decided for the social security administration.
Typically, the physical exams that are given are very short, and are only cursory in nature. The examining physician, who knows practically nothing about the claimant or their medical history, will generally give a brief examination that only results in him or her recording an individual's muscle strength, reflexes, and vitals.
The doctor will also make observations about the individual's balance and gait (they have even been known to observe claimants as they walked to and from their car to see if they were "faking" being disabled...which tells you something about how some consultative physicians actually feel about disability claimants in general).
As you would expect, based on this description of a physical CE (consultative examination), not many cases can be expected to be won based on the findings obtained after such an exam.
In cases where a person is approved for disability after a CE has been done, it is likely that the disability examiner really had enough positive medical evidence in the file to approve the case, but needed some "recent" medical documentation (recent being defined as within the last 90 days) in order to be allowed to close the case.
For those who are unaware, social security requires recent records before a case can be approved, which makes sense since they are essentially certifying the individual as disabled from that point forward.
In contrast to the effect that a physical exam has on a claim, a consultative exam that is mental in nature is more likely to have a beneficial effect, as long as the results are considered to be:
A) Valid (and sometimes they are not if it is determined that the individual is exaggerating their symptoms or are deliberately giving less than their best effort on testing)
B) Supported by the remainder of the medical evidence.
Mental consultative exams fall into several categories. They may be brief mental status exams, they may be full fledged psychiatric evaluations, or they may be comprised of methodical testing, such as a memory scale exam, or an intelligence test.
For individuals who have never been given mental testing, the results of a mental CE can add tremendously to their case because it can supply the type of objective (or subjective in the case of a psychiatric evaluation by a trained psychiatrist) evidence that their file is missing.
And if the results of a mental CE lean particularly in the direction of approving a case, it will become much more difficult for a disability examiner (or their supervisor) to take the position that the individual is not disabled and should be denied for disability.
Return to: SSDRC, or the Social Security Disability Questions page