After you apply for Social Security Disability and/ or SSI benefits, many times the Social Security Administration will arrange for you to visit one or more medical or psychological professionals, at the expense of SSA, called a Consultative Exam (CE). The report(s) from the CE can provide helpful information regarding the extent of your disability, but many times the CE report provides the basis for your claim being denied. Nonetheless, it is important that you attend any scheduled exam, as your failure to cooperate will result in your claim being denied.
Here are some tips that may help with your CE appointment:
- Be there a little early – if you come in late, the consultative examiner may be annoyed, which will not help. Also, if you are rushed and flustered you may say and/or do things without thinking things through. If you are late, that will likely appear in the report, and you may not be seen by the examiner at all, as there are likely other appointments scheduled as well.
- While you are attending your CE, it’s important to keep calm and choose your words carefully. During the exam the consultative examiner will make notes on what you say and do. Unnecessary chatter about your family, your activities, etc. may appear in the report and provide part of the reason for your claim being denied. Be aware that what you say is going to be reported.
- Your appearance matters. For example, if a man has dirty hands or fingernails, it will appear to the examiner that the man has been working. This contradicts a person’s claim to be unable to work. You should dress casually, and not “overdress”; if you are unable to work, your appearance should reflect that.
- When the doctor asks you how you are doing, it’s important to be honest. It is common to respond “I’m good” or “Doing great”. Such a response will probably appear in the report, which contradicts your claim to be unable to work. On the other hand, you don’t want to unload all of your problems on the examiner as soon as he or she enters the room. The examiner should provide you with an opportunity to provide specifics about your condition. The point is that it is okay to let the examiner know you are NOT fine, so don’t unwittingly undermine your case.
- The exam will be brief – the only point of the CE is to assess your ability to work, not provide treatment. As the time is brief, don’t waste it with small talk or things that are not important to your disability. Sometimes people forget that it is a disability exam, not a social visit. If you say “it doesn’t really bother me” or “it’s better than it was”, the examiner will conclude that it is not a problem that keeps you from working, and your responses will be in the report. This is NOT the time to be tough. If a medical condition is so painful that it prevents you from working, it is important to let the examiner know. Don’t say things that minimize your symptoms or limitations, as your words may provide the basis for your claim being denied.
If your disability application has been denied, don’t give up. We are here to help! Call us today, at (251) 478-5297, or see our website for more information at www.byronlassiter.com