Your Guide to Social Security Disability Consultative Exams

SSDI consultative examYou’ve been contacted by the person reviewing your Social Security disability application. You’ve been told that there is not enough information to determine whether or not you have a disability and a consultative exam is necessary to fill in the missing information.

Who Can Perform a Social Security Disability Consultative Exam?

In some cases, the disability examiner may decide that your own doctor can perform the consultative exam.

Any doctor—whether it is your own physician or an independent physician—must be a qualified medical source according to the Social Security Administration’s definition of that term if she is going to complete a consultative exam. A qualified medical source is one who:

  • Is licensed by the state
  • Has the experience to perform the exam or test requested by the disability examiner
  • Has a good understanding of Social Security disability requirements

When choosing a qualified medical source to perform a consultative exam, the professional’s appointment availability and distance from your home should also be considered.

Sometimes Your Own Doctor Isn’t the Right Person for the Job

Even if your doctor meets of all the criteria describe above, the disability examiner may still decide to have your consultative exam completed by another professional if:

  • Your doctor prefers not to complete the exam or test
  • There are conflicts or inconsistencies in your file that would not be resolved by going back to your doctor
  • You prefer another doctor and have a good reason to support your preference
  • Prior experience indicates that your doctor may not be a productive source

Thus, it is possible—but it is not a given—that your own doctor could be the one to perform your consultative exam.

How to Work With the Doctor Performing Your Consultative Exam

Some of the doctors contracted by Social Security for consultative examinations have been described as aloof or even rude. A few applicants have said that the doctor didn’t seem to believe the answers they gave to questions about symptoms. If you find this is the case for you, we’ve gathered the following tips for getting through a consultative exam even if you don’t “click” with the doctor administering it:

  • The purpose of the exam is to collect a crucial piece of evidence needed to make a determination on your disability benefits claim. The doctor will only have—and need—a small amount of information about your medical history.
  • Since the Social Security Administration is paying the doctor, he or she is required to put the priorities of the SSA first.
  • Do your best to not take the doctor’s attitude to heart. There’s a distinct possibility that your assigned physician has already performed a number of similar exams that same day—he or she may be feeling frustrated and tired.
  • Even if a doctor seems incredibly rude, it’s in your best interest to stay respectful. You’ll only deal with them for a few minutes and their report will have a significant impact on the outcome of your claim. If necessary, you can call in a complaint to Disability Determination Services after the appointment is done.

Receiving an appointment for a consultative exam can be intimidating. If you’re ready to take control of your Social Security disability benefits claim, please call us at 877-898-1581today, and please download our information-packed guide, Social Security Disability: What You Need to Know.

Carl M. Weisbrod
Connect with me
Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law