Social Security Administration Mental Consultative Exam (CE)

Social Security uses mental consultative examinations to evaluate a variety of mental disorders and conditions. Mental CE examinations are used to determine a disability applicant's current mental limitations. And consultative examination mental health professionals use testing and clinical examinations to provide disability examiners with the necessary information to make their disability determinations.

For example, if the disability applicant alleges mental retardation, organic mental disorders, or learning disorders, the consultative medical professional may administer psychological testing to determine the applicant's intelligence quotient (IQ).

Standardized psychological testing is used in nearly all cases involving mental retardation. Social Security most often uses the Wechsler IQ testing series to derive a verbal IQ, performance IQ, and a full scale IQ.

However, other tests are available for disability applicants who have sensory, communication, or motor abnormalities or for applicants whose culture and background are not English-speaking.

While IQ testing is most often used in cases that involve mental retardation or learning disabilities, it can be used to evaluate disability applicants who have had cerebral vascular accidents or strokes, organic brain syndrome, or any other situation that involves a compromise in cognitive functioning.

Psychological testing also allows the examining medical professional to make observations about the applicant's ability to sustain concentration, attention, as well as their ability to perform tasks independently without reminders or prompts. In fact, mental CE reports should include both objective information and any clinical observations.

Mental CE examinations might also include mental status examinations. A comprehensive mental status examination might include a description of the disability applicant's appearance, behavior, mood and affect, speech, memory, thought content (i.e. delusions), perceptual abnormalities (i.e. hallucinations), insight and judgment, etc.

The applicant's disabling medical condition determines the areas of mental status that need to be addressed during the examination. Still other mental consultative examinations might involve memory testing or neuropsychological assessments (especially for those who have organic brain disorder or have had a cerebral vascular accident or stroke).

Related: What can I expect from a Social Security Mental Examination or Evaluation?

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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