Friday, June 13, 2008

Anxiety and Panic before a Social Security Disability Medical Exam

As a disability examiner, I scheduled consultative medical examinations for social security disability and SSI claimants all the time. Practically on a daily basis. However, in my capacity as an examiner, I never really considered whether or not claimants became nervous or anxious before going to one. This morning I read a statement by an individual who said he'd gotten an appointment letter for a CE (consultative medical exam) and that, ever since, he's felt anxiety and panic over the prospect of going to such an exam.

Anxiety. It's all understandable and not surprising. After all, every claimant who goes off to one of these exams knows, from their perspective, that what happens at the exam is very important to their case. Considering how desperate a person can feel when they're waiting to see if their disability case will be approved or denied, even sheer panic is a normal reaction.

I'd just like to say for anyone reading this post who A) is scheduled for a physical or mental consultative exam, B) has already gone to an exam, or C) is applying for disability and is giving the subject some thought----

Don't worry. Seriously, you don't need to worry about a CE. Why? Here's why.

1. Consultative exams are just one aspect of the disability determination process, and, honestly, a fairly small one at that.

2. Medical records from your medical treatment sources, particularly your treating physician (including the doctor's notes and any statements he or she submits on your behalf to the disability examiner, the disability judge, or your attorney) are much more important.

3. The consultative exam that you go to for a social security disability or SSI case is seldom the "deal maker or breaker". That is, cases are rarely decided based on the results of a CE.

If that's the case, then, why does social security schedule these medical exams? Sometimes, they are scheduled if you allege a condition on your application for disability but have never been treated for that condition (depression is a good example). In other instances, a CE will be requested when you haven't been to a doctor in as long as 2 months. And sometimes a CE is scheduled when you have a condition but haven't been subjected to certain types of testing that would be helpful to the adjudicator. Examples include xrays, breathing tests (known as Pulmonary function tests or spirometry), cardiac stress tests, memory scales, and psychological testing.

Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog

Prior Posts

When is a Disability Attorney Paid ?
Will Social Security contact you to schedule your Disability Hearing ?
How your Social Security Disability Representative Can Disadvantage your Disability Claim
Disability Lawyers and the mistakes they make