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What medical background do social security disability examiners have?
As a former disability examiner, I can say this with authority. The answer is None. Disability examiners who issue medical decisions on social security disability and SSI disability cases have zilch medical training.
That begs the question, "What kind of training do disability examiners receive?" Good question. When I was an examiner, the training amounted to six weeks of classroom training on the various body systems and on the basic concepts of disability adjudication. Doesn't sound like a lot, does it?
Does a disability examiner really require true medical knowledge to make medical decisions on disability claims for SSA? I can see it from both sides.
The focus of an examiner's work is identifying the aspects of a claimant's case that indicate whether or not the claimant meets the definition of disability. And that is something a medical doctor off the street would not be able to do, simply because most doctors would have no substantial idea as to how social security adjudicates claims. So, using that reasoning, no, lack of medical training may not be critical to doing the job.
But...it has occurred to me very often that disability examiners would be able to do their jobs better IF they understood more of what they read in a claimant's medical records. It is my firm belief that too much of what a disability examiner reads throughout the course of a day he/she does not truly understand.
At this point, an individual reading this post who is a longtime examiner might have a bad reaction to what I'm saying. But if you are a disability examiner, quickly answer this question --- How many times have you been stuck in your medical consultant's office (these are the doctors that disability examiners work with in order to make decisions on disability cases) and not really understood what they were telling you?
The truth is, if disability examiners had better training, the kind that would allow them to better understand the records they read all day long...they might make better decisions on claims.
Return to: Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions
Disability requirements and how to file in California
If I get disbility, can I get help with electric or utility bills?
Contacting a Congressman to help a disability case
Trying to work while getting disability
How do I apply for disability, when
How long does a request for a disability hearing appeal take?
How long does it take to get a disability approval letter?
Appealing a Denial with a Hearing Before an ALJ (Administrative Law Judge)
Applying for disability, medical conditions
Applying for Disability - How long does it take
What Conditions Qualify For Social Security Disability?
Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:
Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI
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?
What makes you eligible to get disability?
How to check my disability claim status?
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