CONSULTATIVE EXAM TIPS – Medical Evidence Wins Your Benefits
WHAT IS A CONSULTATIVE EXAM?
After you apply for Social Security Disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income benefits, you may receive a notice in the mail. This notice schedules you for a Consultative Exam. The SSA usually schedules an exam with one of their doctors during the first six months of the appeals process. For instance, they will schedule your exam during the initial or second appeal stage of your case.
Usually, a physical or mental exam with a doctor is scheduled because the SSA feels they need more medical evidence. They will use the medical evidence to decide whether or not you are eligible for SSDI and SSI benefits. If you need more information about your consultative exam, contact Cannon Disability Law.
Under Social Security law, physical and mental conditions can only be found disabling if they are diagnosed by an acceptable medical source. An acceptable medical source is usually a doctor with an M.D. or a Ph.D..
There are some treating providers that the SSA does not consider to be acceptable medical sources. However, the SSA will consider the medical opinion of physician assistants, nurse practitioners, social workers, counselors, and physical therapists.
Therefore, if you are seeing a social worker for mental conditions, submit the records. Or, if you are seeing a physical therapist for back pain, you should submit those records. Find out more about how to collect and submit your medical records to the SSA here.
THE SSA WILL SCHEDULE YOU FOR A CONSULTATIVE EXAM
When you are at the initial level or the reconsideration level of your case, the SSA may decide to schedule you for a consultative exam with one of their doctors. You need to go to the exam.
If you don’t go, the SSA will automatically deny your case. You don’t want that to happen. Use the exam to tell the doctor what physical and mental conditions are making it impossible for you to do full time work. For example, if you have liver cancer or breast cancer, or any other disease, bring your medical records to the exam so the doctor can review them. Don’t rely on the SSA to send your records.
The SSA will send you a written notice in the mail. It will have the name of the doctor, the address you need to go to, and the date and time of the exam.
If you cannot attend the exam, you must immediately call the SSA and inform them that you have a conflict. Usually, they will reschedule the appointment time for you, so that you can attend. Whatever you do, do not miss the exam. They will not reschedule the exam for you if you miss it without explanation.
WHAT HAPPENS WITH THE WRITTEN DOCTOR’S REPORT?
Once you have gone to the exam, the doctor will write a report about you. Then the doctor will submit the report to the SSA. You will not receive a copy of the report in the mail. So, you will not know what it says.
However, the report usually includes information about how your symptoms would affect you if you were working 40 hours a week. For example, if the doctor visit is for a physical condition, then the doctor will write about your ability to sit, stand, walk, and lift. If you need a copy of the exam, then you can obtain it after the SSA decides your claim.
You should take the exam seriously. If for any reason you cannot attend, then you should reschedule the exam. The SSA pays for the exam and will use the results to decide your case. But if you do not attend the exam, they will use your failure to attend to deny your claim.
WHY DOES THE SSA SCHEDULE A CONSULTATIVE EXAM?
The SSA is scheduling you for an exam with a physical doctor or a psychologist, in order to document your medical condition. Therefore, it is crucial for you to attend the exam. The physical doctor will be testing for physical conditions.
For example, if you have a back condition, the doctor will be watching how you walk into the office. Likewise, they will watch you in the waiting room to see if you have pain behavior. The doctor will discuss how you move, bend, sit, stand, and walk. They will write down if you are able to get onto the exam table. The doctor will also write down your complaints and if he or she can document those symptoms on exam.
THE MENTAL EXAM
At a mental exam, you visit the psychologist. The psychologist will interview you to see if you suffer from Anxiety, PTSD, or another mental condition. You may also be given an IQ test. Find out more information about the WAIS IV IQ test here.
Additionally, find out more information for benefits for Depression here. Anxiety Disorder can also qualify you for SSDI and SSI benefits. Likewise, information about PTSD can be found here.
You should see the exam as an opportunity to explain your mental problems and how they affect you on a daily basis. For example, if you are depressed, you could discuss how you can’t sleep at night, have panic attacks, or how you can no longer concentrate. You should make sure to describe all of your mental issues with the doctor. If you need to know more about how to prepare for the psychological exam, read here.
TIPS TO HELP YOU DURING YOUR CONSULTATIVE EXAM
Here are some tips to help you during your Consultative Exam. The SSA pays the doctor who is doing your exam. The doctor at the exam is not your doctor. The doctor is not on your side. You should not assume they are in support of you winning benefits.
If you are sent to an exam for physical conditions, you need to bring copies of your medical tests and records with you. Find out more here about how to obtain a copy of your medical records.
For example, if you have an MRI, X-ray, CT scan, or an operative report, bring it with you to the exam. Give a copy of your records to the doctor. The reports provide medical evidence of your condition. Your medical records contain the medical opinion of your treating doctor about your ability to work. This opinion is good for the doctor to see.
Do not give the SSA doctor the original copy of your records. Also, 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 exam, bring your records and then explain all of your problems to the doctor.
EXPLAIN YOUR PAIN AND MENTAL SYMPTOMS TO THE CONSULTATIVE EXAMINER
The exam 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 explain your symptoms to the SSA. The same is true for a mental exam. If you see a psychiatrist or psychologist, tell them about your symptoms of low mood, anxiety, or PTSD. Or, if you have any other mental condition, then explain your symptoms to the doctor.
Tell them if you have panic attacks from anxiety. Also, tell them about how you can’t concentrate and about your memory problems. You should tell the doctor how your mental symptoms prevent you from doing your activities of daily living. For example, if you have memory problems, you may forget to the pay your bills. Or, family members may need to remind you to do so.
If you have physical problems, you may need help getting dressed, doing laundry, or cooking. If you have trouble walking and need a cane or walker, then bring it and use it at the exam. It is important to talk about and show your symptoms at the Consultative Examination.
AT THE CONSULTATIVE EXAM EXPLAIN TO THE DOCTOR WHY YOUR SYMPTOMS KEEP YOU FROM WORKING
Typically, during a physical exam, the doctor will ask you how many pounds you can lift. Do not brag about your past strength. The doctor is asking how many pounds you can currently lift over and over again throughout the course of an 8 hour workday.
If you have back problems or joint pain, you will probably not be able to lift more than 10 pounds. Especially, when you are working over an eight hour period of time. Find out more about arthritis here. If you have osteoarthritis go here. Read here if you have a back condition that keeps you from working.
Be realistic when you are answering the doctors questions. And, explain to the doctor what symptoms are keeping you from working. Think about how difficult it would be for you to sit or stand during an eight hour workday.
MENTAL IMPAIRMENTS THAT PREVENT WORK
If you have mental issues, think about how hard it might be for you to leave your home. Also, think about how hard it would be to deal with the public on the job. Would you lose your temper? Or, would you be rude to customers? Likewise, would you take too many breaks? Think about your ability to focus and concentrate during an 8 hour work day.
It is important to tell the doctor how your mental conditions affect you at work. For example, if you were fired from work, then tell the doctor. If you missed work due to your mental health problems, then let the doctor know. Other things you can talk about are being late to work or having to go home early. Or, not being able to follow instructions. Be able to answer the questions honestly. Doing so will help you be successful in winning your benefits.
If you have questions about what will happen at your Consultative Exam, then call Cannon Disability Law. We will help you prepare for your exam. Also, we can help you apply for benefits and appeal a denial from the SSA. If you have an exam with the doctor, then bring your mental health records to the doctor for review.
DO YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR YOUR CONSULTATIVE EXAM?
One important thing to know is that you do not have to pay for the SSA exam. So, you will not have to pay to see the medical doctor. You will not have to pay a co-pay or any money at the exam. Likewise, you will not have to pay to see the psychologist.
It is possible, if you have a rare disease, for the SSA to send you to an expert. Typically though, a request must be made in advance. Also, the expert must be available in the area where you live.
When you attend the appointment, the SSA is paying for you to see the doctor. But, you will not be having a private meeting with that doctor. Because, the doctor is sending a report to the SSA about you. If you have medical records, bring them with you so the doctor can review them. If you need help with your Social Security Disability claim, contact Cannon Disability Law.
AT THE CONSULTATIVE EXAM SHOW THE DOCTOR WHY YOU CANNOT WORK
The report written by the doctor will talk about how you act. Also, the doctor will report on the things you say and even what you are wearing. Some doctors also watch you as you walk into the building from the parking lot. Additionally, if you are rude to the front desk staff, that will go into the report too. They will even report on whether you are able to fill out the forms that they give you.
It is important to show the doctor your physical problems. For example, if you use a cane, then use it at the exam. Don’t leave it at home. If you use a walker, then use it at the exam.
The doctor will report on whether you are carrying a purse or a back pack. If you tell the doctor that you cannot lift more than 10 pounds because of back pain, but you are carrying a large, full purse, then what do you think the doctor will say in his report?
Other things the doctor will report on is how long you are able to sit during the exam. He or she will also report on whether you are able to easily get up onto the exam table. If you have pain, back problems, or trouble walking, make sure that you report it to the doctor. Also, make sure your actions support your words.
THE SSA USES THE EXAM TO DEFINE YOUR RESIDUAL FUNCTIONAL CAPACITY
In order to determine your RFC, the SSA looks to the medical evidence in your case. One of the pieces of medical information they will consider is the report from the SSA exam. The SSA gives a lot of weight to opinion of their own doctor. If your treating doctor has a different opinion to that of the SSA doctor, then the judge will take that into account.
Hiring a lawyer to help you get all of your medical records is a wise choice. The SSA stops getting the medical records in your case after they deny your case for the second time. This means that a year may go by without any collection of your records. Then, you case will be set for a hearing. Learn more here about how to obtain your medical evidence for free.
If you do not have an attorney helping you, then there will be no one getting your medical records during the time you are waiting for a hearing date. However, you must have medical records in order to prove a mental or physical condition before a judge. Additionally, all of those medical records must be in to the judge more than one week prior to your hearing. If you submit medical records later, then the judge does not have to consider them. This is known as the 5 day rule. Learn more about the 5 day rule for sending in medical evidence here.
YOU ONLY PAY AN ATTORNEY FEE IF WE WIN YOUR CASE
Prior to your exam with the SSA doctor, you may need to hire an attorney. In order to hire Cannon Disability Law, all you need to do is call or contact us. We offer a free review of your case over the phone. And, it doesn’t cost anything to call us.
Better yet, it also doesn’t cost you any money to hire us. Why? Because you only pay us an attorney fee if we win your case. It means if we win your SSD case, you pay out of your back benefits. If you do not win, there is no attorney fee to pay. Our attorney fee is capped at $7200 or 25% of your back benefit, whatever is less. If we do not win, then there is no attorney fee.
However, if there are costs in your case, then you pay those. But usually those costs are less than $100 and consist of getting your medical records. Once we win, we are paid from your back benefit. But, to hire most lawyers, you have to pay upfront. We don’t work like that. You don’t have a job. So, the only way to pay us, is for us to win your case. That is our goal. Call and see what we can do for you.
WHAT WE DO TO HELP YOU WIN SSDI AND SSI BENEFITS
If you are sick, then you need help to apply for Social Security benefits. You can always call our law firm and we will help you. We can help you file your application. Also, we can help you appeal every SSA denial. For example, our attorneys and staff can:
- Send you the paperwork you need to become our client
- Help you file your application for SSDI and SSI benefits
- Inform the SSA they should automatically pay your benefits under the Compassionate Allowance Rules
- Appeal if you receive an initial denial from Disability Determination Services
- Help you confirm your Consultative Exam
- Request a Hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
- Prepare you to testify at your SSA hearing
- Represent you at your hearing and question the witnesses
- Read more about vocational experts here
- Learn more about medical expert testimony here
- Request review of an SSA decision with the Appeals Council
- Request review of an Appeals Council denial in Federal Court
If you file your application for benefits online at Social Security’s website, then you have 6 months to complete the application. Once you submit your application online, the SSA sends you an application summary in the mail. You must sign the summary and mail it back. If you don’t send it back, the SSA will not process your application. Sign it and send it back as soon as you can.
OUR LAWYERS AND STAFF CAN HELP YOU
If you want to learn more about the lawyers at our law firm you can go to our About Us page. For example, you may want to know that Dianna Cannon has been helping Social Security clients for thirty years. Brett Bunkall and Andria Summers have also won thousands of SSDI and SSI cases.
In the past 30 years, we have won over 20,000 SSDI and SSI cases for our clients. Our experts can help you apply for SSI and SSDI benefits using the SSA’s website. However, we will need your help to apply for SSI benefits. Why? Because only you know your personal financial information. SSI benefits require you to have minimal assets and monthly income.
Likewise, if you need an appeal, we can help you do that too. There are also many forms that will need to be filled out. Don’t worry. If you have questions about these forms, we will answer them. You can learn more about SSA’s appeal forms here. Call us today.
We represent clients in many states, including Nevada, Utah, and Idaho. Find out more about Nevada SSDI benefits here. Learn more about Utah SSD benefits and California SSDI and SSI benefits here. No matter where you live, we want to be your legal team. Call us now. We will answer your questions about your consultative exam.