The short answer is yes. If you apply for disability benefits, you may be asked by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to appear at a consultative exam or CE. These medical exams are often requested when there is insufficient medical evidence to determine the severity of your impairment.
A Social Security medical exam would also be required if your treating doctor has not documented your condition thoroughly or responded to information requests, or if you have not been seen by a medical professional in some time.
For assistance with a disability claim or appealing a denied application, Dayes Law Firm is here to help. Request a free consultation to find out how we may be able to help. We do not get paid unless you do.
Understanding Consultative Exams
Unlike other medical exams, consultative exams are not issued to provide medical care or treatment. These exams are conducted to obtain a better understanding of an applicant's condition and limitations.
A CE can either be physical, psychiatric or psychological. They could also include additional testing, such as blood work or x-rays, but you would not be required to pay for this exam.
It is important to note that these exams are not performed by SSA doctors, but rather independent doctors contracted by the SSA. Generally, you would be assigned an examiner within close proximity to your home and with the availability to conduct the exam.
Additionally, anything conducted during a Social Security medical exam is at the sole discretion of the disability examiner. The examiner will only gather what is necessary for a disability determination.
Are These Exams the Best Way to Prove Disability?
Although a CE can help assess your current medical condition, it is just one way to help gather evidence to prove the existence and severity of a disability. The independent doctor conducting the exam is seeing the applicant for the first time. He or she does not know your full medical history.
Any medical records sent over from your treating doctor to the examiner may also not be read before your appointment. You may just be sent to have a symptom checked or one test done, such as straight leg raise test. Overall, these exams tend to be brief, averaging about ten minutes.
Things Included in a Consultative Exam Report
The independent doctor performing the medical exam must send a written report of his or findings and the results of any tests taken. It could also include a diagnosis and prognosis of your condition as well as certain restrictions you may have that impacts your ability to stand, bend or lift items.
This report may even include the examiner's opinion about whether your impairment is as serious as you claim. For instance, the doctor may write down that you did not give your best effort during the exam or that you had little to no difficulty getting out of your car or walking to the appointment.
Although such statements may not accurately reflect your pain, its is important that you clearly address your symptoms and/or any mobility issues during these medical exams.
What If I Miss a Social Security Medical Appointment?
If you want to obtain disability benefits, attending a CE is not optional. Missing your appointment could result in a disability claim decision without medical evidence from this exam. An appointment may be rescheduled if you fall ill, have a death in the family, or have trouble with transportation to the exam.
Without a valid reason, you will likely be denied for failing to attend the medical exam and must appeal the decision. When this happens, you would have to pay to see an examiner, unless a disability hearing judge sends you to another medical exam.
Let Us Help During This Process
If you have been asked to attend a consultative exam, an experienced Phoenix Social Security Disability lawyer from our firm is prepared to help you navigate the process. Learn more about your rights and potential legal options during a free, no-obligation legal consultation.
There is no risk in calling us and no upfront fees for our services. We only get paid if you obtain benefits.
Dayes Law Firm. Free Case Reviews. Ph: 1-800-503-2000.