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

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.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Filing for disability and medical conditions you can apply for