Many applicants for Social Security disability benefits are asked to go to consultative medical examinations (CME). The disability examiner assigned to your claim may request the CME. The goal of a CME is to collect important evidence for your disability claim; it won’t be like a typical appointment with one of your physicians where you receive treatment. The purpose of the exam will be directly related to your claim and may involve lab work, imaging, or some other medical test the examiner has requested.
Why do I need a Consultative Medical Exam?
It isn’t unusual for you to have at least one CME scheduled after applying for benefits. Some of the reasons might include:
- The disability examiner needs a key piece of medical evidence to finalize the determination.
- The SSA requires that a specific piece of evidence be obtained before the examiner can notify you of its decision.
- You haven’t received treatment for your impairments in 60 or more days.
- Your medical evidence is insufficient. In other words, the examiner doesn’t have everything needed to make an informed decision on your claim.
Whatever the case, most applicants will never find out why a CME is needed. A good thing to keep in mind about receiving an appointment notification is that it means that Disability Determination Services (DDS) is actively working on your claim.
What Will a CME be Like?
Consultative medical exams tend to be very impersonal and quick. Don’t be alarmed if the doctor performing your CME seems distant or even unfriendly.
If you are scheduled for a CME, it is important to remember that:
- The doctor performing the exam is being paid by Social Security, not you; he or she will need to put the priorities of the SSA first.
- Do your best to stay respectful and polite through the entire exam.
- If the doctor asks about your symptoms, give short answers with concrete examples.
- Never exaggerate or downplay the intensity of your symptoms.
The CME should be completed at no cost to you.
Always Show Up for CME Appointments
If you don’t have a valid reason for missing a CME, the disability examiner may determine that you are non-compliant and immediately deny your claim. If you miss the CME but contact the examiner with a valid reason, it’s possible to reschedule the exam—it will just mean you have to wait even longer for a decision.
Applying for Social Security disability benefits can be stressful. Let us help you build a well-grounded and persuasive case. Call 800-800-6353 or complete our online contact form today to learn more.
by Paul B. Burkhalter Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.