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What to Expect During Your Social Security Disability Medical Exam

When filing a disability claim, the main factor taken into consideration when reviewing your claim for benefits is how your specific disabling condition affects your ability to work and earn a substantial income. If you do not have enough medical documentation to support this claim or if you have not had a recent evaluation, the Social Security Administration may require you to go for a consultative exam. Without this exam, it may be impossible to approve your claim for Social Security Disability benefits. Knowing exactly what this exam entails and what you should expect can help prepare you for the process. This exam is not a substitute for regular medical follow-up with your treating physician(s).

Independent Agents

The first thing you need to understand is that the doctor who performs your Social Security Disability medical exam does not “work” for the Social Security Administration. While the Social Security Administration will be paying for the exam, the doctor is not an employee of the agency. He or she will be an independent physician who is paid to assess the validity of your Social Security Disability claim.

What to Expect at Your Social Security Disability Medical Examination

Your medical exam will help your case examiner gather the evidence needed to either support or deny your Social Security Disability claim. The extent of the exam will depend on the nature of your claim and may entail a mental exam, x-rays, blood work and other medical evaluations. The person evaluating your claim will decide which tests need to be administered and ordered by the doctor you visit.

It is important to understand that the disability exam is not intended to treat your disability. Its sole purpose is to determine the extent of your condition and to ensure that your claim meets the guidelines set forth for approval. For example, your Social Security Disability claim may be rock solid but if you haven't had a “recent” doctor's visit (within the last 60 days) your examiner may schedule a Social Security Disability exam to meet this requirement.

As a general rule, Social Security Disability exams are very brief. Some exams may last only ten to fifteen minutes. In most cases your disability exam will take twenty minutes or less. The exception to this rule is if you are undergoing a comprehensive mental evaluation. In these cases, it is not uncommon for the exam to last forty minutes or even an hour or more.

Although your Social Security Disability exam will be brief, you may encounter an unpleasant examiner. While not all examining doctors are rude, there have been many reports of people being treated poorly at their Social Security Disability exam. If this happens to you, remember that you only have to endure the treatment for a few minutes and then you will not have to see this doctor again. It is never a good idea to become confrontational with your examining physician.

Understand that while it is not the physician's job to approve or deny your disability claim, he or she can make notes as to whether or not they feel you are healthy and able to work. There have been some reports of doctors noting that they feel an applicant is being dishonest. More than one doctor has watched a disability applicant walk back to the car after the visit just to see if that person was still limping in the parking lot.

You need to understand that the doctor you are seeing will be evaluating the exact extent of your condition. If you feel that he or she has not gathered enough evidence during your visit, do not be afraid to speak up. This does not mean you should be rude to the doctor, but you should explain that you feel they have not asked some important questions related to your disability claim.

Above all else, make sure you show up to your Social Security Disability exam on time. If you are late and the doctor decides not to see you or if you miss the exam altogether without good reason, your claim for Social Security Disability benefits may be denied.

Keep Your Chin Up

It is not uncommon for people to walk away from a Social Security Disability exam feeling frustrated, disheartened or even depressed. Remember to keep your chin up. While the exam does play a role in determining whether or not you are entitled to Social Security Disability benefits, the medical records and professional opinion from your primary physician will play a more important part in that decision.

If, for some reason, you are denied Social Security Disability benefits due to an unfair medical exam you can go on to appeal the decision and may have it overturned so that you can receive the Social Security Disability benefits you are entitled to.