The Social Security Disability Doctor Appointment is Called a CE

Some people who apply for Social Security Disability are required to attend a Social Security medical examination called a consultative exam (CE).

The CE is typically needed in cases in which the claimant has no recent medical records that document his current state of health. Social Security defines recent as within the past 60 days, so those who have not have not seen a physician for their impairment within this time frame will probably be sent for a CE. However, it's important to note that a disability examiner can send a claimant for a CE at any time the examiner feels he needs more information, or more clarification regarding the limitations imposed by an impairment.

Unfortunately, a CE is very unlikely to provide the examiner with any information other than the claimant's supposed state of health at the exact moment of the exam. Social Security medical exams are carried out by private physicians with their own practice, the thought being that such individuals will be unbiased in their opinions.

And yet, this is not always the case, as many people who have attended CEs have reported that the physician was both rude and dismissive. If you attend a CE and find that you are treated badly, you should report this to the disability examiner who sent you, though the likelihood of such a complaint changing the outcome of your case is slim at best.

CEs are generally performed for one purpose and one purpose only: to allow a disability examiner to close a case. Disability examiners cannot close cases without recent medical evidence. These exams are a mere formality in that they allow the examiner to get the medical evidence needed, even though it is highly improbable that the findings of a CE will alter the examiner's disability decision in any way. Indeed, in most cases the examiner has already formed an opinion well in advance of the CE, and is just looking to dot all the i's and t's before composing his synopsis and getting the file off his desk.

CEs are usually pretty brief'-10 to 15 minutes is the average. They are sometimes not even performed by a doctor who specializes in treating the claimant's particular impairment. For instance, a urologist or gynecologist could be the one evaluating a case of spinal stenosis, diabetic neuropathy, seizure disorder or epilepsy, etc.

Sound ridiculous? Well, ideally it won't matter much, at least not to SSD/SSI applicants with a history of documented medical treatment for their impairment(s). If it's true that a CE won't help your case much, it's also fair to say that it won't hurt it much, and certainly won't overrule all of the other medical evidence in your file.

If you are sent for a CE, it is well worth your time to attend; in fact, failure to attend a CE or multiple CEs could be a basis for dismissal of your claim, regardless of your level of impairment.

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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