Calling Social Security about a Disability Exam that was scheduled

Someone recently asked the following: "I'm trying to assist a person who was sent a letter about some kind of disability exam, but he lost the letter and the contact number to schedule an appointment. Is there a central number to call".

I answered back with the following:

This individual most likely received an appointment letter for a consultative examination. A consultative exam, or CE, is scheduled so additional medical documentation can be obtained for a claimant's case. Very often, if the exam is physical in nature, it will have been scheduled for no other reason than the fact the claimant has not been seen by a doctor in quite some time (more than 90 days), or has not treated ever for a condition that they are alleging on their claim. This is not always true, though, and sometimes a CE appointment is just an appointment to have xrays done.

Of course, if a consultative exam is mental in nature, it may also be due to social security's need for recent evidence. However, the thing that distinguishes a physical CE from a mental CE is that a mental exam will provide more substantial information since it typically involves memory scale or IQ testing or a full psychiatric evaluation, though it may simply be a mental status exam.

To answer your question, though: Consultative examinations are sometimes ordered by administrative law judges when a case is at the disability hearing level, but most often a CE is ordered by a disability examiner who is processing a case to a decision when the case is pending at the disability application or reconsideration appeal level.

As a former disability examiner, I would recommend your client calling your state's disability determination services agency. DDS is the agency that processes disability claims for the social security administration. FYI, it's called DDS in most states because that's how the social security act refers to this agency. However, in your state the agency may go by another name.

This is what your client should do:

1. Call the social security office where they did their application for disability.

2. From them, they should get the number for DDS, or whatever name the state agency goes by in their state.

3. When they call that agency, they can provide their name and social security number and be put in touch with the disability examiner working on their claim to learn about any examinations they have been scheduled for (and there could easily be more than one).

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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