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CONSULTATIVE EXAMINATION TIPS – Medical Evidence Wins Your Disability Claim

WHAT IS A CONSULTATIVE EXAMINATION?

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. For instance, they will schedule it during the initial or reconsideration level of your case.  Typically, a physical or mental examination with a doctor is scheduled because the SSA feels they need more medical evidence. They will use the medical evidence to decide whether you are disabled. If you need more information about your exam, contact Cannon Disability Law.

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.. 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 impairments or a physical therapist for back impairments, you should submit those records.

THE SSA WILL SCHEDULE YOU FOR A CONSULTATIVE EXAM

When you are at the initial level of your case or at the reconsideration level, the SSA may decide to schedule you for an examination 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.

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. 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.

Once you have gone to the exam, the examiner will write a report 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.

WHY DOES THE SSA SCHEDULE A CONSULTATIVE EXAM?

The SSA is scheduling you for an examination with a physical doctor or a psychologist, in order to document your disability. Therefore, it is crucial for you to attend the exam. The physical doctor will be testing for physical impairments. For example, if you have a back impairment, the doctor will be watching how you walk into the office, 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 examination.

On a mental examination, you visit the psychologist. The psychologist will interview you to see if you suffer from Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, or another mental disorder. 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 psychologist.

TIPS TO HELP YOU DURING YOUR CONSULTATIVE EXAMINATION

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.

TELL THE DOCTOR WHAT SYMPTOMS YOU ARE HAVING AT YOUR 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. Especially, when you are working over an eight hour period of time.

Be realistic when you are answering the doctors questions. And, explain to the doctor 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. 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 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.

DO YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR YOUR CONSULTATIVE EXAMINATION?

One important thing to know is that you do not have to pay to go to the Consultative Examination. So, you will not have to pay to see the medical doctor. Likewise, you will not have to pay to see the psychologist. However, the SSA is paying the doctor’s fees. You will not be having a confidential meeting with the doctor. Instead, the doctor is providing a report to the SSA about you. The report will talk about how you act, 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 and tell the doctor your problems. For example, if you use a cane, then use it at the doctor’s office. Don’t leave it at home. If you use a walker, then use it at the examination. The doctor will look at  if you are carrying a purse or a backpack. If you state to the doctor that you cannot lift more than 50 pounds because of back pain, but you are carrying a large, full backpack, then what do you think the doctor will say in his report? The doctor will look at how you sit during the exam. He or she will also report on whether you are able to get up onto the examination table. If you have pain, back problems, or trouble walking, make sure that you report it and your actions are consistent with your words.

Social Security Attorneys at Cannon Disability Law

CANNON DISABILITY LAW WORKS ON A CONTINGENCY FEE

In order to hire Cannon Disability Law, all you need to do is call or contact us. We offer a free consultation 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. This is a contingency fee. 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.

If there are costs in your case, then you pay those. But typically that cost is less than $100. 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.

In the past 30 years, we have won over 20,000 SSDI and SSI cases for our clients. Our specialists can help you apply for SSI disability benefits using the SSA’s website. However, we will need your help to apply for SSI benefits. Why? Because only you know your personal information. 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. Call us today. We want to be your disability legal team.

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