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Consultative Examination Tips – How To Make Sure The Medical Evidence Wins Your Disability Claim


After you apply for Social Security Disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income benefits, you may receive a notice scheduling you for a Consultative Examination.  The SSA usually schedules a Consultative Examination during the first six months of the appeals process or in the initial or reconsideration level of your case.  Typically, a physical or mental examination with a doctor is scheduled because the government feels they need more evidence to decide whether you are disabled.

Under Social Security Law, physical and mental impairments can only be found disabling if they are diagnosed by an acceptable medical source, like an M.D. or a Ph.D.. The SSA does not consider physician assistants, nurse practitioners, social workers, counselors, chiropractors, or physical therapists, acceptable medical sources. Therefore, if you are seeing a social worker for mental impairments or a chiropractor for back impairments, the SSA may schedule you for an examination with a doctor. The doctor will write a report, after your examination, and submit it to the SSA. The report usually includes information about how your impairments would affect you if you were working on a 40 hour a week job.

You should take the scheduled doctor examination seriously and if for any reason you cannot attend, you should reschedule the examination.  The SSA pays for the examination and will use the results to decide your case. But if you do not attend the examination, they will use your failure to attend to deny your claim.


Here are some tips to help you during your Consultative Examination. The SSA pays the doctor who is doing your examination. The doctor at the exam is not your doctor. You should not assume they are in support of you obtaining benefits.  If you are sent to an exam for physical impairments, you need to bring copies of your medical tests with you.  For example, if you have an MRI, X-ray, CT scan, or surgical report, bring it with you to the exam.  The reports provide objective medical evidence of your impairments and are good for the doctor to see. Do not give the doctor your original copy and do not assume the SSA will send your medical records to the doctor, because they usually don’t.  If you are scheduled for a physical examination, explain all of your problems to the doctor.

doctors social security disability

The examination is your opportunity to describe your pain and how it limits you. If you do not tell the doctor what is wrong, there is no way for the doctor to write a favorable report. The same is true for a mental examination. If you see a psychiatrist or psychologist, tell them about your symptoms of depression and anxiety. Tell them if you have panic attacks, the inability to concentrate, memory problems, and so on.  You should tell the doctor how your mental impairments prevent you from performing normal activities of daily living.  For example, if you have memory problems, you may forget to the pay your bills and family members may need to remind you to do so. If you have physical impairments, you may need help showering, doing laundry, or cooking.  It is important to talk about your limitations at the Consultative Examination.


Typically, during a physical examination, the doctor will ask you how many pounds you can lift. Do not overestimate or brag about your past strength. The doctor is asking how much you could lift repetitively throughout the course of an 8 hour workday. If you have back problems, arthritis, or joint pain, it is unlikely that you could lift more than 10 pounds repetitively over an eight hour period of time. Be realistic when you are answering the doctors questions and explain what impairments are preventing you from working. Think about how difficult it would be for you to sit or stand during an eight hour workday. If you have mental issues, think about how hard it might be for you to leave your home and deal with the public. Think about your ability to focus and maintain concentration for 8 hour work day.

Think about how your impairments affect you in the workplace. Be able to honestly answer the doctor’s questions and that will help you be successful in your disability claim. If you have questions about what will happen at your Consultative Examination, call Cannon Disability Law. We will help you prepare for your examination. Also, we can help you apply for benefits and appeal a denial from the SSA. Contact Cannon Disability Law for help with your Social Security Disability claim.

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