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 does Social Security think they know more than my doctor?

Someone made this statement recently in a forum. "I don't see how the social security doctor will determine my illness better than the psychiatrist I've gone to for two years.

Guess what? This individual is completely right. In fact, claimants are generally sent to a social security doctor (in actuality, these are private practice physicians, psychiatrists, and psychologists who are paid to perform consultative exams (CE) for social security; in other words, they don't work for social security) for three reasons.

1. To obtain recent medical record documentation if you haven't been seen for your condition in some time (usually more than 60 days). This can take the form of a physical CE or of a mental CE that can either be a mental status exam, an IQ test, a memory scale, or a full psychiatric exam.

2. To obtain special testing. You could be sent out for xrays if you've had a bone break, or to spirometry (breathing test) if you have respiratory problems, or to audiometry if you have hearing loss, etc, etc.

3. You could be sent to mental testing even if you did not allege a mental condition on your disability application but there was some indication of this in your file (believe it or not, even if your family doctor who treats you for back problems writes the word "depression" one time in your file).

None of these purposes, however, has anything to do with rendering a final disability determination on your case. The consultative examiner simply examines you, or performs his or her testing, and later submits a CE report to the disability examiner (disability examiners are the individuals who make decisions on disability applications and reconsideration appeals while disability hearing decisions are made by federal judges).

How much weight does the CE report carry? My own estimation is "not a lot". As a disability examiner, I saw a very small percentage of claims that were approved on the basis of CE exam reports.

What then, you may ask, is the purpose of even going to such an exam? Truthfully, most of these exams are scheduled for just one reason. So the disability examiner can say "Yes, I have recent medical documentation" and then close the case.

So, the lesson to be learned here if there is one, is this: when you file for disability, don't assume that if you haven't been going to a doctor that you can be approved simply by going to a social security medical exam. It could happen. But its more likely that, without a record of receiving treatment from your own doctors, your chances of winning disability benefits will be slim.

Essential Questions

What is the Social Security Disability SSI list of impairments?

Can you work while getting or applying for Disability?

How Often Does Social Security Approve Disability The First Time You Apply?

Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

Receiving a Disability Award Letter

Conditions Social Security will recognize as a disability

Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

Applying for disability in your state

Most popular topics on SSDRC.com

Social Security Disability SSI Questions

The listings, list of disabling impairments

Can a mental illness qualify you for disability?

Disability Lawyers prevent unnecessary denials

How much Social Security Disability SSI back pay?

How to apply for disability for a child or children

Filing a Social Security Disability SSI application

Filing for disability - when to file

How to apply for disability - where to apply

Qualifications for disability benefits

How to Prove you are disabled and Win your Disability Benefits

Qualifying for Disability - The Process

How to get disability for depression

Getting disability for fibromyalgia

SSI disability for children with ADHD

What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?

Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips

More Social Security Disability SSI Questions

Social Security Disability SSI definitions

What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?

New and featured pages on SSDRC.com

Who can help me file for disability?

Related pages:

How long does a request for a disability hearing appeal take?
How Do I Find Out How My Disability Appeal Is Going?
Is Social Security Disability separate from SSI?
Using the right medical evidence to win disability benefits
Social Security Disability, medium work, and your records
Tips, how to apply for disability
How much does disability pay?
Disability requirements, eligibility, criteria
Disability requirements and how to file in Texas
Appealing a Denial with a Hearing Before an ALJ (Administrative Law Judge)
Medical conditions for which you can file and apply for disability

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

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.