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Things to Consider When attending a Social Security Consultative Exam

  • By:The Law Center for Social Security Rights
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The CE (consultative exam) is medical exam (either physical or mental) with a Social Security doctor. It is common that a CE is scheduled and it does not mean anything negative or positive in your case. These exams most often happen a few months after you first apply for disability. The opinions and records from your own doctors are much more important for your application than this exam. Nevertheless, it is important that you be cooperative and attend the  exam. The CE doctor is there to give a one-time exam and write down the results. CE doctors are not Social Security employees. Rather, they are independent contractors who are giving a medical opinion about your conditions and reporting on what you may tell them.

You should keep some things in mind when you attend your CE exam. There is a good chance someone will ask or observe such things like how you got there, how far you traveled, if you needed someone to accompany you, and if you were able to drive a car. This information may be written in the report so make sure you give an accurate accounting. Typically, there are two people at the exam- first person may be an intake person who asks questions, and the second person will be the doctor. These people may observe your ability to walk, sit or stand or how you behave in the parking lot, waiting room or doctor’s office. During a physical exam, you may be asked to do things like walk across the room, touch your nose with your eyes closed, stand on one leg. The doctor will note any difficulties or problems with your functioning. Sometimes, objective testing is performed such as x-rays or breathing tests (PFTs). If you are attending a mental CE, you will probably be asked some questions to test your memory and cognitive ability. For example: Who is the president? How do you spell your name? Can you remember three words I say to you? Can you still remember the three words ten minutes later? What is 100 – 7? The doctor will typical comment in the report about someone’s appearance and behavior such as how they are dressed, if they appear in pain, if they are able to carry on a conversation, how much they struggle to remember and answer questions. The doctor may also look for signs of malingering and will note if someone is not really trying their hardest to answer questions.

Bottom line; be polite and honest to the doctor examining you while noting the things that are difficult for you to do. Don’t be embarrassed about letting the doctor how bad things are for you. But at the same time, don’t go overboard so it sounds like an exaggeration. Just be yourself.

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