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

Social Security Medical Exam - the purpose of the Consultative Examination

When Social Security sends you to a medical exam, what is the purpose of this? Why do they do it? Can the results of a consultative exam have an impact on your case?

If you apply for social security disability or SSI disability benefits, there is a fairly good chance you will be scheduled to go to a medical exam. Typically, this happens when an individual who applies for disability has not been seen by a doctor in recent weeks or months. It seems to happen on at least 1 out of every 4 cases.

Should you be concerned if you are notified by mail that you will have to go to a social security medical exam? Not at all. Such exams are really only for the purpose of obtaining recent medical evidence that will, in essence, allow the social security administration to close a case, i.e. to make a decision on a claim.

Why is this? While disability examiners need older medical records to determine when a person became disabled (which impacts how much back pay they will get and when medicare coverage will start), they are also required to have medical evidence available to them that is not older than 60 days in order to render a determination. Without such evidence, they are unable to make the determination that the individual is currently disabled.

Here are a few initial points to keep in mind:

1. CEs, or consultative exams, are ordered by disability examiners (application and reconsideration appeal) and also by judges at hearings. But more so by examiners.

2. An exam can be physical in nature, or it can be mental. If the exam is for a mental impairment, it may involve psychological testing (such as intelligence testing or memory scales to test impaired memory) or a psychiatric evaluation.

3. The exam will not be conducted by a doctor who works for the social security administration. Instead, it will be conducted by a doctor who has agreed to perform such exams, but, otherwise, is engaged in private practice. The exam can be performed by a claimant's own doctor if the person requests this and the doctor agrees to do this.

4. The exam will usually last less than thirty minutes, and sometimes as little as ten minutes.

5. The consultative exam will seldom ever provide the basis for either an approval or a denial of a disability case. In most instances, it is simply a procedural formality to go through when an applicant has not been to a doctor recently.

All of this said, a person still needs to go to an exam if one has been scheduled because failing to go can be a reason for denying a case (failure to cooperate). If you miss an appointment for an exam, a disability examiner will usually be willing to reschedule the exam. However, if you miss more than one, this can be a problem because the doctor who has agreed to do the exam may decline.

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

Related pages:

Social Security Disability Claims and Medical Exams
What is the Purpose of the Social Security Disability SSI Medical Exam, or CE?
Social Security Medical Exam - the purpose of the Consultative Examination
Social Security Consultative Medical Exams and How they affect Disability Claims
The Social Security Disability Doctor Appointment is Called a CE
If Social Security Disability sends you to an Exam, will it be done by your doctor?
Social Security Disability, SSI Medical Exams For Physical Problems
Social Security Administration Physical Consultative Exam (CE)
Social Security Disability, SSI, and Mental Testing
Do the Results of the Social Security Psychological Exam have any Bearing on Being Approved?
Will an SSI or Social Security Exam help with the Decision?

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 answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria