Most disability examinations do not take long, but mental testing takes longer

I've never been to a Social Security Disability medical exam. But as a disability examiner working on SSD and SSI claims, I may have sent thousands of individuals to these types of exams. Most were for physical assessments, some were for xrays, some were for pulmonary function tests, and many were for mental testing (either a full psychiatric exam, a mental status exam, or a psychological IQ exam).

Mental exams, by necessity, take a certain amount of time and, generally, there's no real way around this. Basically, the examining psychologist or psychiatrist can only ask questions but so fast and the disability applicant who is being questioned can only answer questions but so fast.

However, a physical CE (C.E. stands for consultative examination) is different. And very often a physical examination will last only as long as ten minutes. I've probably gotten hundreds of calls from claimants who had been to one of these exams who were amazed that it had been so brief. And, usually, the question was: "How could the doctor learn anything about me in just ten minutes?". And, of course, the answer is that they can't, or at least it is very unlikely.

The purpose of going to one of these physical exams is so that the disability examiner who is working on the case can state that he or she has recent medical evidence, which is a requirement for closing a case. In most instances, this sort of exam and the report that follows from it serves no other purpose.

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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