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Do the Results of the Social Security Psychological Exam have any Bearing on Being Approved?

Actually, the results of a consultative examination, i.e. a social security medical exam, that is mental in nature will have a much better chance of having a positive impact on the outcome of a Social Security Disability claim or SSI disability claim. I say this from my perspective of being a former disability examiner at DDS (disability determination services) where claims are decided for the social security administration.

Typically, the physical exams that are given are very short, and are only cursory in nature. The examining physician, who knows practically nothing about the claimant or their medical history, will generally give a brief examination that only results in him or her recording an individual's muscle strength, reflexes, and vitals.

The doctor will also make observations about the individual's balance and gait (they have even been known to observe claimants as they walked to and from their car to see if they were "faking" being disabled...which tells you something about how some consultative physicians actually feel about disability claimants in general).

As you would expect, based on this description of a physical CE (consultative examination), not many cases can be expected to be won based on the findings obtained after such an exam.

In cases where a person is approved for disability after a CE has been done, it is likely that the disability examiner really had enough positive medical evidence in the file to approve the case, but needed some "recent" medical documentation (recent being defined as within the last 90 days) in order to be allowed to close the case.

For those who are unaware, social security requires recent mental records before a case can be approved, which makes sense since they are essentially certifying the individual as disabled from that point forward.

In contrast to the effect that a physical exam has on a claim, a consultative exam that is mental in nature is more likely to have a beneficial effect, as long as the results are considered to be:

A) Valid (and sometimes they are not if it is determined that the individual is exaggerating their symptoms or are deliberately giving less than their best effort on testing)


B) Supported by the remainder of the medical evidence.

Mental consultative exams fall into several categories. They may be brief mental status exams, they may be full fledged psychiatric evaluations, or they may be comprised of methodical testing, such as a memory scale exam, or an intelligence test.

For individuals who have never been given mental testing, the results of a mental CE can add tremendously to their case because it can supply the type of objective (or subjective in the case of a psychiatric evaluation by a trained psychiatrist) evidence that their file is missing.

And if the results of a mental CE lean particularly in the direction of approving a case, it will become much more difficult for a disability examiner (or their supervisor) to take the position that the individual is not disabled and should be denied for disability.

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

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

Related pages:

Do the Results of the Social Security Psychological Exam have any Bearing on Being Approved?
What does it mean if Social Security sends you to a Psychiatrist?
Getting a Social Security Disability Determination After Seeing a Psychologist at a Mental Evaluation
The Psychologist Exam for Social Security Disability and SSI Claims
Social Security Disability Mental Testing
Getting approved for mental disability benefits in North Carolina
Can I file a disability claim for my adult child who lacks mental capacity?

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