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

Why would Social Security Send you to an Exam if You MEET a Listed Impairment?

Someone submitted this question recently and my first thought was--how do you, the claimant, actually know whether or not you meet a listed impairment?

True, anyone can visit the social security administration website, read the listings for various body systems, and note the listed criteria. However...interpreting the listings is not always the easiest thing to do, even for disability representatives and disability examiners. This is because many of the listings provide multiple tracks of disability approval criteria and often the listings are nested (layered), making the reading of them fairly tedious and, to most claimants I would assume, fairly incomprehensible.

Ok, but's lets assume that a claimant has ventured into the listings, located an impairment that they believe their condition meets or equals. That still doesn't change the fact that social security must have medical evidence that verifies this allegation.

And not only that, for a claimant to be approved for disability and receive ongoing benefits, there must be current evidence that documents and substantiates that the claimant is currently disabled. As in "at this very moment".

That, of course, is where the social security medical exam comes into play. If you file a claim for disability, a disability examiner cannot, in most instances, render a decision without having access to recent records. And "recent" typically means documentation created within the past 90 days (though it is not uncommon to order an exam for a claimant who has not been by a doctor in, say, the last 60 days).

Actually, an amazingly high percentage of claims that are filed with SSA (either for Social Security Disability or SSI disability) involve claimants being sent to a CE, or consultative examination. And this is simply because so many claimants who file for disability either have not received any treatment for a specific medical condition, or have not received recent treatment in general from a medical professional.

What if you have a condition that is disabling but does not require continuous treatment, or your doctor has released you because, in the physician's opinion, you have reached MMI, or maximum medical improvement? As far as the social security administration is concerned, that fact is somewhat irrelevant.

Their position is that they cannot render a disability determination on your claim without recent medical documentation. And that, of course, is a logical position. After all, without a "recent snapshot" how can social security really know that a claimant is currently disabled, even if past medical records indicate that the claimant's condition effectively eliminated their ability to work and earn a substantial and gainful income?

If you get scheduled for a CE, or social security medical exam, you absolutely need to go, however. Not going can form the basis for a denial. And missing an appointment for an exam can result in significant wasted time as far as the processing of your claim is concerned.

Essential Questions

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Related pages:

Partial disability benefits
Appealing A Social Security Disability Determination
Disability requirements, eligibility, criteria
Permanent disability benefits
What Happens When You File an SSI or Social Security Disability Application?
How do you Apply for SSI?
Help filing for disability benefits with Social Security
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These pages provide answers to basic questions about pursuing disability benefits

What Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?
Disability for a mental condition
Tips for Filing for disability
Financial Help Filing For Disability
Checklist for filing for disability, SSI or SSD
Qualifying for disability benefits, how to qualify for SSD or SSI
Filing a disability application: the steps
Disability award notice, how long it takes to get benefits
How to Apply for Disability - Where do I go?
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Can a disability attorney speed up a disability case?
SSI disability Award Letter
How long to get approved for disability?
How to apply for disability benefits
How long does disability back pay take?
What are qualifications for getting disability?
What medical conditions can you file disability for?
Disability Lawyer help questions
Social Security Attorneys, Disability Representatives

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.