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Can you Trust the Doctor who does the Social Security Disability Medical Exam?

I've written many times about the doctors who perform physical medical examinations for the social security administration. These doctors are independent physicians who have contracted to provide a service by conducting short examinations of disability claimants. They do not work for social security as opposed to the doctors who work with disability examiners in case processing units (these doctors are known as unit medical consultants).

Just the same, however, most claimants who go to a examination routinely refer to these doctors as "social security doctors". They also end up telling remarkably the same stories about their exam (which is technically referred to as a CE or consultative examination) experiences.

How do the stories go? Typically, like this:

1. The exam was short (ten minutes seems about average as the reported length)

2. The exam was really short (less than five minutes).

3. The doctor knew nothing about the claimant or the claimant's medical background (sometimes examiners send copies of selected bits of medical evidence to the examining doctor to fill them in regarding the claimant's medical history, but usually not).

4. The doctor had a specialization that seemed "out of place" (e.g. a gynecologist giving a neurological exam).

5. The doctor was rude (this seems extremely common).

When the doctor is the enemy

Well, here's another characterization of the doctors who perform examinations for social security. Sometimes, they are the enemy. Here's an example. They observe claimants from their office window, looking to see whether or not the claimant is exaggerating their symptoms.

I've seen this one on a number of consultative examination reports myself (exam reports are supposed to be sent to disability examiners within ten business days following the examination). And, typically, I didn't assign the remark much weight simply because pain and the ability to ambulate without noticeable restriction tend to be somewhat transient phenomena. In other words, pain can come and go, and a person's walking ability can seem better or worse throughout the course of a day.

However, the fact that consultative exam doctors make such remarks and make such observations points to one thing. Don't assume that the doctor who is examining you is a disinterested party. Sometimes, these doctors have their own biases and can work against you. Just remember that when you go to an exam, the doctor may be watching you more than you realize.

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

Related pages:

How long for a disability judge to make a decision?
While you are in your disability interview
The SSD and SSI definition of disability
Social Security took away my disability
How are women alerted to breast cancer?
SSDI benefits review
How to file for disability in Virginia VA
When does Social Security pay the first disability benefit check?
Can I get disability based on my high blood pressure and my age?
Can I get disability if I have seizures?
How Often Does Social Security Approve Disability The First Time You Apply?
Can you file for disability for a triple bypass
Applying for Disability with high blood pressure
Filing for disability based on Borderline Personality Disorder

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

Getting a disability approval
How to appeal disability denial
Disability hearing results
Helpful tips for going to social security disability hearing
SSDI hearing decision
Denied social security disability now what
Social security disability appeal status
Social security disability appeal attorney fees
I was denied social security disability for the 2nd time
What happens after a disability hearing has been held
How long does a Social Security Disability judge have to make a ruling?
The Social Security Disability Blue book
How to get an SSDI reconsideration approved?
Conditions that get approved for disability
Social security disability back pay status
Denied social security disability appeal
What to say at a disability hearing
Filing for disability with fibromyalgia
Tips for applying for disability