Thursday, January 15, 2009

Are Social Security Disability Exams Bogus?

This question was recently asked--word for word--in a forum. This question I'm going to pass to a friend of mine who currently works for disability determination services and, therefore, must remain nameless:

"Not all Social Security disability exams are bogus; however how can a one-time examination evaluate the effect that an individual’s disabling condition or conditions has upon their daily life? By its very nature, a consultative disability examination paid for by Social Security is a little biased. Even in the best of circumstances the physician takes about fifteen minutes to evaluate an individual’s residual functional capacity (the things you are able to due in spite of the limitations caused by your disabling condition or conditions) and your ability to perform substantial gainful work activity.

The more important question here is how does an individual avoid being sent to a Social Security disability exam? The answer is a simple one. The individual needs to have a medical history that is twelve months in duration; if not twelve months at least present medical records that address their disabling condition or conditions within the last three months.

Generally, Social Security disability examiners only schedule consultative disability examinations for individuals who have no current medical records that evaluate their disabling conditions, or if they feel the individual’s impairment needs to be evaluated by a specialist such as a neurologist or orthopedist."

Now, here's my own brief opinion on consultative exams. As an examiner, I found them generally to be a waste of time. Seldom it seemed did they every have any useful impact on a case and, thus, they did little more than add processing time to a case.

In fact, if you round up several disability examiners and coerce them into giving you an honest answer as to why they even schedule such exams, they answer you'll probably get back will be a variation of: "I need recent MER (medical evidence of record) to close the case".

Personally speaking, I would have more faith in consultative examinations and the role they play in the disability determination process...if the social security administration walked it like they talked it.

To what am I referring? This quote from the blue book. "The treating source is the preferred source for a CE if he or she is qualified, equipped, and willing to perform the examination for the authorized fee".

Obviously, as the manual indicates, the treating physician, i.e. a claimant's own doctor, would be in the best position to medically examine a claimant. However, in my experience as a disability examiner, I never found that the DDS I worked for ever attempted to have consultative examinations performed by the claimant's own doctor. Perhaps this isn't the case in other states, but I wouldn't be surprised if this is the standard approach in most states.

If social security actually took seriously their stated position that a claimant's own doctor is the preferred doctor for conducting a claimant's social security medical exam, I think at that point I would have to reevaluate my position on consultative exams. But I really doubt that day is coming any time soon.

Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog

Other Posts

Qualifying for Disability - How difficult are the Qualifications ?
My Disability Claim was Denied, Should I Reapply?
What Does Social Security Consider To Be a Disability?
What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI Disability ?
Will a Disability Judge advise you to get representation?
Social Security Disability SSI - Speeding up a hearing when you have a dire need



Blogger Valash said...

You have a very interesting blog, keep blogging...and stop by my blog sometime.


5:11 PM  

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