Social Security Disability SSI Exam Tips

Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips

As a disability examiner, I routinely scheduled people for medical exams, what we routinely referred to as a CE, which stands for Consultative examination. On many days, it seemed that practically every single new case that landed on my desk required a CE.

Why? That's probably the first question that leaps out. Why does Social Security send people to medical exams? Before I answer that, let me point out that SSA sends people to exams for physical and mental conditions, for neurological evaluations, for visual and hearing impairments, for psychological IQ testing, for memory testing, for breathing capacity testing, and even for Xrays. SSA does not send people for actual treatment, however, and they do not pay for CT scans or MRI scans.

Here's the answer as to why exams are scheduled. There are several situations in which you will be sent to an exam.

1. You have never been treated for a condition you listed on your application. For example, if you mentioned depression when applying but never got treated for depression, you will be sent to an exam, either a mental status exam, or even a full psychiatric evaluation.

2. If you had been treated but were never given a certain type of testing to measure your function, you might be sent to a CE. Spirometry, or forced exhalation breathing test, would be an example of this.

3. You haven't been seen by a medical doctor in several months. In this case, you will absolutely be sent to an exam. A disability examiner cannot close a case without recent evidence, so in this case a CE exam is essential. Note: this is the reason for the vast majority of all scheduled exams.

Now, what tips should you be aware of? Quite honestly, some of these are common sense, but some are good to know in advance of going.

A. The doctor who does your CE will be someone who is, for the most part, unfamiliar with you or your medical condition. This is not helpful, of course. For this reason, you may wish to request that your own doctor be contacted so that they can do the exam instead.

B. When you go to the exam, do not be late. Most of the doctors (probably all) who do these exams do so in order to supplement their income, so being late and holding things up would be frowned upon. Why does this matter? Because...many of these doctors, even though they do exams for SSA, have a negative opinion of disability applicants. So, don't be late. You might even want to visit the office once before the day of the exam.

C. For similar reasons cited above, do not exaggerate your symptoms or condition. Be mindful of this fact: there are some doctors who will even watch from a window while you walk back to your car in order to decide in their own mind if you were embellishing while being examined.

Here are some tips from the site about consultative exams.

1. Social Security Disability Claims and Medical Exams
2. Will an SSI or Social Security Exam help with the Decision?
3. What should you say if you go to a Social Security Exam?
4. Do CE exams usually result in denials for disability?
5. Medical Exams and How they affect Disability Claims
6. Social Security Administration Mental Consultative Exam (CE)
7. The Social Security Psychological Exam
8. Can you say the wrong thing during a social security consultative medical exam?
9. If Social Security sends you to a Psychiatrist
10. What can I expect from a Social Security Mental Examination

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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