Going To Your Own Disability Doctor Or To The SSA Consultative Exam
Whether you are applying for SSDI or SSI, a doctor’s evaluation is a vital part of your claim for Social Security Disability benefits. You may have been seeing doctors and other medical professionals for your condition, but it’s often not enough to have them treat you. Their professional opinion, in addition to your medical records, can help support your claim that you have limitations that keep you from working consistently.
Further, the Social Security Administration (SSA) wants to see recent medical information when deciding on a disability application. If you haven’t been to the doctor in a while, you’ll want to make a new visit to obtain an up-to-date assessment of your disabling condition.
If the SSA finds that your application has insufficient or out-of-date medical information, they may require you to undergo a consultative examination (CE).
Here are some tips on preparing for a Social Security Disability doctor evaluation, whether it’s with your own physician or a doctor at the consultative exam.
How To Find A Good Disability Doctor
Many disability applicants can count on their current personal doctor to provide supporting evidence on their disability. But if you currently don’t have a physician or if you are seeking one who can help you better, there are ways to find the right disability doctor for you.
One is by contacting your medical insurance provider for a list of doctors covered in your area. These doctors are typically listed by specialization, so you can easily narrow your search. You can also get recommendations from your family and friends, or from people you know in the medical field. These recommendations can be an advantage because they are from people you trust and they make it easy for you to build a connection with the doctor.
A more convenient way of finding a disability doctor is to search on the internet. Numerous websites provide free lists of doctors, even organizing them by location, specialty, and rate. Make sure to check the credentials and history of each potential physician you are planning to contact.
Social Security Disability Doctor Evaluation
As mentioned above, what you need from your physician is not just treatment but supporting information and opinions regarding your disability. Ideally, you have already visited with your doctor for your disabling condition before you initiated your disability application. If you applied with the SSA first before getting a doctor’s appointment, you run the risk of getting an unfavorable decision from the SSA before you even see your doctor.
To get ready for the disability consultation, gather the available facts and information relevant to your claim – it’s wise not to assume that your physician knows everything. List all the limitations that you experience due to your condition. Write down even the effects of your medication and other treatment. Make a copy of this list that your doctor can keep.
Preparing For A Consultative Examination
Even if you’ve already seen your personal doctor, you may have to go through an additional consultative exam (CE). This is required if the SSA needs to get additional medical information on your condition, clarify some of the info you’ve already given, or ensure that the info is up-to-date. The SSA will schedule and pay for this exam through the local Disability Determination Services (DDS) office.
The exam will not be conducted by the SSA itself but by an independent physician. In fact, the SSA’s first preference is for your own personal doctor to conduct your supplemental exam. If your doctor is not available, not willing, or not qualified to perform the CE, the SSA will call on a different independent doctor to do it.
What should you expect from the disability doctor during the CE? The physician will only gather the needed medical information on your condition – the consultation is not intended to treat you. However, you can expect to undergo certain tests such as x-rays, blood work, psychological exams, and the like, if the doctor sees the need. You are also allowed to bring in or request a free qualified interpreter if you are not confident with your English proficiency.
Consultative exams are typically short – most take 20 minutes or less, with some lasting only 10 minutes. However, some tests, such as mental evaluations, may take as long as an hour or more. At the end of the CE, the doctor will submit a report to the SSA stating the results of the exam as well as his or her opinion on your disability.
It’s best to come into the exam with an open and honest attitude. Remember that the SSA arranged this consultation because they need important information for your claim. If you feel that the doctor has not gathered enough evidence during the visit, politely speak up about it. But stay truthful in your exam. Some doctors note in their reports when they believe that an applicant is being dishonest about their condition.
Contact Gillette Law Group
Having a doctor assess your disability can very often become challenging. It is not uncommon for SSA applicants to encounter doctors who are uncaring, impatient, or outright hostile, making their patients feel uncomfortable about speaking up for themselves. Sometimes, even friendly physicians provide unfavorable opinions on disability claimants.
Protect yourself by having a lawyer on your side. In Virginia, you can consult for free with us at the Gillette Law Group. We have helped numerous Virginians succeed in every step of their disability claim, including doctors’ evaluations. Call us at (855) 806-4269 today.