WHAT IS A CONSULTATIVE EXAMINATION?
After you apply for Social Security Disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income benefits, you may receive a notice in the mail. This notice is 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 your exam during the initial or reconsideration stage 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 or not you are eligible for disability benefits. If you need more information about your consultative 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. 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 impairments, submit the records. Or, if you are seeing a physical therapist for back impairments, 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 EXAMINATION
When you are at the initial level or the reconsideration level of your case, the SSA may decide to schedule you for a consultative 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 of the examination.
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 examiner will write a report. Then the doctor will submit their 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 impairments would affect you if you were working on a 40 hour a week job. If you need a copy of the examination, then you can obtain it after the SSA decides your claim.
You should take the consultative examination seriously. If for any reason you cannot attend, then 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. Find out more about qualifying for disability under Depression here. Anxiety Disorder can also qualify you for disability 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 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. The doctor is not on your side. 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 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 surgical report, bring it with you to the exam. Give a copy of your records to the examiner. The reports provide objective medical evidence of your impairments. Your medical records contain the medical opinion of your treating doctor about your disability. This opinion is good for the doctor to see.
Do not give the examining 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 consultative examination, bring your records and then explain all of your problems to the doctor.
EXPLAIN YOUR PAIN AND MENTAL SYMPTOMS TO THE CONSULTATIVE EXAMINER
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, 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 your inability to concentrate and memory problems. 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. Or, family members may need to remind you to do so.
If you have physical impairments, you may need help showering, doing laundry, or cooking. If you have trouble walking and need a cane or walker, then bring it and use it at the examination. It is important to talk about and show your limitations at the Consultative Examination.
AT THE CONSULTATIVE EXAMINATION EXPLAIN TO THE DOCTOR WHY YOUR SYMPTOMS KEEP YOU FROM WORKING
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 many pounds you can currently 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. Find out more about arthritis disability here. If you have osteoarthritis go here. Read here if you have a back condition that is disabling.
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.
EXAMPLES OF 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 maintain concentration for an 8 hour work day.
It is important to tell the doctor how your impairments affect you in the workplace. Be able to honestly answer the doctor’s questions. Doing so 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.
DO YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR YOUR CONSULTATIVE EXAMINATION?
One important thing to know is that you do not have to pay for the Consultative Examination. 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 examination. 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 a specialist. Typically though, a request must be made in advance. Also, the specialist must be available in the area where you live.
When you attend the appointment, the SSA is paying the doctor’s fee. You will not be having a confidential meeting with the doctor. Instead, the doctor is providing 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 EXAMINATION SHOW THE DOCTOR HOW YOUR IMPAIRMENTS KEEP YOU FROM WORKING
The consultative examiner’s report 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 doctor’s office. Don’t leave it at home. If you use a walker, then use it at the examination. The doctor will look to see if you are carrying a purse or a backpack. If you tell 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?
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 examination table. If you have pain, back problems, or trouble walking, make sure that you report it to the doctor. Also, make sure your actions are consistent with your words.
CANNON DISABILITY LAW WORKS ON A CONTINGENCY FEE
Prior to your consultative examination, 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 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 those costs are 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.
CANNON DISABILITY LAW’S REPRESENTATIVES
If you want to learn more about the representatives at Cannon Disability Law you can go to our About Us page. For example, you may want to know that Dianna Cannon has been practicing Social Security law for thirty years. Brett Bunkall and Andria Summers have also won thousands of disability cases.
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 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 disability benefits here. Learn more about Utah disability benefits and California disability benefits here. No matter where you live, we want to be your disability legal team. Call us now. We will answer your questions about your consultative examination.