How a Consultative Medical Examination Affects Your Social Security Benefits

After you submit your initial application for Social Security disability benefits for a physical impairment, the disability examiner assigned to your case may schedule you for a consultative  examination, or CE. A CE is different from a regular doctor’s appointment in that it isn’t intended for diagnosis or treatment but to instead gather specific evidence for your claim.

Usually, an independent physician contracted by Social Security performs the exam. It will be directly related to the medical issues described on your claim and may involve x-rays,  or any other information the disability examiner has requested.

There are several reasons you may need a CE. For example:

  • You haven’t been treated for your medical condition or conditions in a “considerable” amount of time, usually 60 or more days.
  • There isn’t enough hard medical evidence in your Fremont disability benefits claim to support a finding of aprroval or denial of your disability claim.
  • There is one specific piece of medical evidence, such as an X-ray or a stress test, needed by the disability examiner to confirm his or her decision.

Always Attend CE Appointments

If you miss a scheduled CE without offering a valid reason, the disability examiner can deny your claim for non-compliance. If you contact the examiner with a valid reason for missing the appointment, you may be allowed to reschedule—but this could mean you must wait several more weeks to hear back on your claim.

Chances are, you’ll never know why an exam has been requested. However, it might be helpful to remember that having a CE scheduled means your claim has entered into the active determination process.

What a Consultative Medical Exam Will Be Like

CMEs tend to be all business and very, very quick. In rare cases, an exam may last as long as 20 minutes, but they’re usually between 5 and 10 minutes. The exam is paid for by Social Security.

Many applicants are surprised not only by the brevity of CMEs, but also the demeanor of the examining physician. Many doctors contract with Social Security as a way to bring in extra dollars while their practice is newly established or going through a rough period; therefore, the doctor may seem aloof, unfriendly, or even rude.

Some things to keep in mind during your CE:

  • Be polite and respectful with the doctor at all times.
  • If you need to answer any questions, keep your answers brief but avoid absolutes and try to offer concrete examples whenever possible.
  • Don’t exaggerate or downplay your symptoms.

If you’ve been scheduled for a consultative medical examination and are concerned, contact an experienced Fremont disability attorney as soon as possible for more insight. Call 402-933-5405 or email lawteam@cuddiganlaw.com to learn more. Our free and informative booklet, Give Yourself the Best Chance of Winning Your Social Security Disability Case, is free to your request.

Timothy J. Cuddigan
Omaha Social Security and Veterans Disability Lawyer With Over 40 Years Experience