Social Security Disability Resource Center

Overview | How to Qualify | Applications
Requirements | How long it takes | Back Pay
Mental Disability | What is a disability? | Tips
SSI Benefits | How to Win | Disability Awards
Hearings | Appeals | List of Disabling Conditions

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.

  • What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

  • What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

  • Which conditions will social security recognize as a disability?

  • Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

  • SSDRC Homepage:

    Social Security Disability and SSI Resource Center

    The Most Basic questions about Getting Disability Benefits

    Social Security Disability SSI and whether or not you can work

    Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

    Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

    More Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

    Common Questions about Social Security Disability and SSI

    Winning Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

    The SSI Disability Benefits Program

    Medical exams for disability claims

    Applying for Disability in various states

    Social Security Disability SSI and Doctors - Yours and Theirs

    Social Security Disability and SSI Claim Reviews

    Social Security Disability SSI System and Benefits for Children

    Denials, Appeals, and Getting a Disability Lawyer or Representative

    What you should know about Social Security Disability and SSI Denials

    Questions about Disability Lawyers and Hiring a Disability Attorney

    Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits

    FAQ on Disability Claim Representation

    Disability hearings before Judges

    Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers

    Various Types of Benefits including SSI, Mental, and Child benefits

    Social Security and SSI based on Mental Disability

    Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits for Children

    Disability Benefits through Social Security

    Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

    Social Security Disability SSI: Medical Evidence and Records

    Filing your claim for disability benefits

    Eligibility for receiving disability benefits

    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

    Resources on this site

    Social Security Disability, SSI Terms and Definitions

    Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

    For Individuals living in North Carolina

    Applying for Disability in North Carolina

    North Carolina Disability Lawyer

    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