Understanding Your Consultative Examination
After filing a disability benefits claim, you may receive correspondence from the Social Security Administration informing you of an appointment they have scheduled for you to undergo an examination. This examination is known as a “consultative exam.” It may be normal to feel some apprehension upon receiving this notice, and you may very well feel some apprehension, but you shouldn’t. You can view this exam as an opportunity to give an independent medical professional more information regarding your symptoms, how your conditions affect you, your day, and your ability to accomplish tasks.
Consultative exams aren’t performed by an employee of Social Security; they are conducted by independent physicians hired by Social Security for the purpose of performing an unbiased, independent exam. There are many exams that may be scheduled for you such as auditory, respiratory, visual, etc., but the most commonly scheduled exams are for internal medicine and mental status.
Preparing for Your Consultative Exam
So, how do you prepare for your consultative exam? First, if you have any medical records, you should provide them. Remember this doctor doesn’t know about you or your conditions. The most helpful medical records will consist of MRI’s, EMG’s, blood tests (for conditions diagnosed through bloodwork and labs such as rheumatoid arthritis and Lyme’s), and of course, any prescriptions.
Objective records and findings carry the most weight with many medical professionals and with Social Security. Of course, for cases involving mental health, you likely don’t have any medical records aside from your prescriptions. Additionally, be prepared to discuss your story with them. Talk about what caused the impairment and how it affects your daily living now. Your story applies to all kinds of impairments and all examinations.
Provide them with a narrative. Tell them. Don’t exaggerate, but similarly, don’t minimize. Tell them about your typical day and the challenges you may face on a regular basis. Think about the difficulties you encounter daily. What makes them difficult? Is it due to physical limitation? Anxiety? What interferes with your daily functioning? Do you receive assistance with accomplishing your daily tasks? Can you perform household chores? Why or why not? Tell them about your self-care, such as bathing and dressing. Discuss social interactions if they are affected or limited by your impairments.
If you can perform a particular activity, but it is with great difficulty or painful consequences later, let them know about those difficulties and challenges. Let your doctor know what a good day, a bad day, and what a typical day is like for you. Inform them of your treatment history. Which specialists have you seen? What procedures have been done? Have you been hospitalized? If so, were they multiple admissions? Do you need to go to the emergency room frequently due to your conditions?
What to Expect
When you come to your consultative exam, you might be observed before you even enter the office. Sometimes, an examiner may watch the claimant leave their vehicle in the parking lot, walk to the entrance, etc. Additionally, keep in mind that this is not a feel-good exam. Once the exam is completed, you may not feel that the examiner spent enough time with you learning about your conditions. You may even feel that you were hurried.
These exams are often performed by physicians who have many patients and a limited amount of time to spend with each one. In fact, it’s exactly why you should prepare and focus on the impairments that present you with the most limitations. Don’t lose precious time talking about conditions that are marginal and don’t limit your ability to function on a daily basis.
Remember, this is your opportunity to help the examiner understand your specific conditions and how they affect you — so tell them!
Contact Andrew Yang, a Social Security Disability Law Attorney from Martin Law, The Law Firm for Injured Workers at 215-587-8400 to arrange a consultation.
For more information on our Guest Blogger, Mark Davis from Martin Law, The Law Firm for Injured Workers, visit https://www.paworkinjury.com/.