Overview of Disability

Disability Back Pay

Disability Requirements

Disability Applications

Disability Advice Tips

How long do cases take?

How to win Disability

SSD Mistakes to avoid

Disability for Mental

What if you get denied?

How to file Appeals

Disability through SSA

SSI Disability Benefits

Disability for Children

How do I qualify for it?

Working and Disability

Disability Award Notice

Disability Lawyer Q&A

Disability Conditions List

What is a disability?

Your Medical Evidence

Filing for your Disability

Disability Eligibility

SSD SSI Definitions

Recent Questions

SSDRC Disability Blog

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.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

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

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