How to file for disability, Filing for SSI
Disability Requirements, Disability Status
How long is the wait?, Disability Application
The Social Security List of Impairments
Qualifying for Disability, Mental Disability
Disability Lawyer Info, Disability Back Pay

What should you expect at a Social Security Disability psychological exam?

What should you expect at a Social Security Disability psychological exam?

When you file a disability claim or an appeal, it is the duty of the Social Security Disability specialist to obtain medical evidence prior to making their medical disability determination. They will obtain medical records from your psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or other mental health professional. Once they have this information they have to determine if it is current (ninety days old or less) and if your medical records provide enough information to make their disability determination.

What to expect from the exam

The psychologist/psychiatrist will identify you and will begin the examination. They will review your mental health treatment records with you. They will conduct any testing necessary for the disability determination.

They may ask questions with regard to how long you have been in treatment, or how do you think your mental condition affects your ability to work, or perform routine daily activities. While they ask these questions, they will be observing things about you. For instance, they will observe your ability to communicate, remember things, your mood, eye contact, judgment or insight, etc. to complete in order to complete their mental evaluation.

Once they have conducted their examination they must prepare a report that includes their assessment of the severity of your mental condition, their evaluation of the limitations imposed upon you by your condition, and their opinion as to your ability to perform substantial gainful work activity.

Who will perform the mental exam?

Social Security would prefer your mental health professional conduct the consultative examination, however they will use independent mental health professionals to conduct testing and mental health/status examinations when necessary. There are a variety of reasons why Social Security might use an independent source for a psychiatric evaluation or psychological examination. An independent source might be used in the following situations:

Your treating psychiatrist or psychologist cannot perform or decides not to perform your consultative examination.

You may prefer to have an independent mental health professional and you are able to provide the disability specialist with valid reasons for your request.

Your medical records may contain irregularities that cannot be addressed by your treating mental health professional because they are the cause of the irregularities.

Perhaps your treating mental health professional has not been a productive source for medical records or information, thus a consultative examination is required.

Lastly, consultative psychological examinations may be requested to further clarify information contained in your medical records. Keep in mind, your treating medical health providers write their notes for themselves not for disability determinations.

Whatever the reason, consultative examinations are fairly routine in the Social Security Disability determination process.

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For the sake of clarity, SSDRC.com is not the Social Security Administration, nor is it associated or affiliated with SSA. This site is a personal, private website that is published, edited, and maintained by former caseworker and former disability claims examiner, Tim Moore, who was interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled "The Disability Mess" and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system.

The goal of the site is to provide information about how Social Security Disability and SSI work, the idea being that qualified information may help claimants pursue their claims and appeals, potentially avoiding time-consuming mistakes. If you find the information on this site helpful and believe it would be helpful to others, feel free to share links to its homepage or other pages on website resource pages, blogs, or social media. Copying of this material, however, is prohibited.

To learn more about the author, please visit the SSDRC.com homepage and view the "about this site" link near the bottom of the page.