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If you are filing for Social Security disability benefits because of a mental health condition, the Social Security disability examiner assigned to your case may require that you go for a consultative exam.

Typically, Social Security disability examiners request consultative exams for one of the following reasons:

  • They need more recent information. Social Security disability applications must be decided based on recent information. If you have not seen a doctor or received medical care within the past couple of months, more recent information may be required.
  • They need additional information. This may be because something in the medical record is unclear or incomplete.

If a social security disability examiner requests a consultative exam, it is important to comply with that request so that you do not risk an unfair denial of your Social Security disability application.

What to Expect At a Mental Consultative Exam

A mental consultative exam may be just one appointment. Who that appointment is with and what will occur at that appointment depends on your specific disability. For example, your consultative exam may be scheduled with a:

  • Psychologist. A psychologist may perform an exam and testing if you are claiming memory problems, cognitive problems, or learning disabilities due to stroke, head trauma, or other conditions.
  • Psychiatrist. A psychiatrist may perform an exam and testing if you are claiming a personality or mood disorder.

Other conditions such as anxiety and depression may require a mental consultative exam performed by a physician or psychologist. All of these exams will be paid for by the government and should not cost you anything out of pocket.

What to Expect After a Mental Consultative Exam

The person who performed your mental consultative exam must file his or her report with your Social Security disability examiner within ten days of completing your exam. While your eligibility for Social Security disability will not be determined solely on the report from your mental consultative exam, it will be considered by the Social Security disability examiner deciding your case. Accordingly, it is important to know what to expect so that you can be prepared and so that you can protect your rights.

Morgan & Weisbrod LLP

by Paul B. Burkhalter
Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.


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