If your disability makes it so that you are unable to work and you need financial assistance, you can apply for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA). These benefits can help you pay for your everyday living expenses and medical bills.
The application process for disability benefits can be lengthy and complicated, and the SSA may request that you complete a consultative medical exam as part of your application materials. Read more about what a consultative exam means and entails.
What Is a Consultative Exam?
A consultative medical exam is meant to provide the SSA with a glimpse of your medical condition and the limitations caused by your disability. This exam is performed by an independent doctor who is contracted by the SSA – not an “SSA doctor” or doctor employed by the SSA, as some may believe.
Being requested to complete a consultative medical exam by the SSA is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, this request means that, at the very least, the SSA is actively considering and working on your application for disability benefits. On the other hand, this request also means that you did not provide enough medical evidence for the SSA to make an informed decision about your claim – whether you have a large gap in medical history or you haven’t seen your doctor for your condition or in a long amount of time.
What Does a Consultative Exam Entail?
A consultative medical exam can be physical, psychiatric, or psychological. These exams are usually short, on average lasting about ten minutes. In fact, it is common for disability benefits applicants to worry about their exam being too brief.
Your exam will be similar to a regular physical exam, with the doctor looking at your heart rate, weight, blood pressure, and more – as well as taking a deeper look at your disability and its symptoms. The physician may also choose to include an eye test, blood work, x-rays, or any other test they think is necessary.
Afterwards, the doctor will complete a written report detailing your exam and their professional opinion. This report will be sent to the SSA and added to your disability benefit application materials.
Always Go to a Scheduled Exam
You may be hesitant or worried about attending a consultative medical exam – especially with a doctor you don’t know. It is important that you always make sure to attend your scheduled exam, because it could affect the outcome of your application. In fact, claim examiners can close your case with the reason that you “failed to cooperate” by not attending your exam.
Hire a Social Security Disability Lawyer
You should hire a disability benefits lawyer or advocate for help with your application process. A lawyer or advocate can help you gather the necessary medical evidence, fill out your application completely, submit your application with the SSA, and answer any questions you may have throughout. This will ensure that you maximize your chances of filing a successful disability benefits application and begin receiving the financial assistance you need.