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Examinations Scheduled for You by SSA for Your Social Security and/or Supplemental Security Income Disability Claim

By R. M. Bottger

 

The Social Security Administration may schedule an examination for you regarding your claim for Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Administration does not do this on every Social Security and/or Supplemental Security Income disability case. If Social Security can make a decision on your claim for Social Security disability benefits based on your medical records, it will do so. If your medical records do not contain enough information to make a decision on your claim for Social Security disability benefits, however, the Social Security Administration will schedule an examination for you.

Some people who apply for Social Security and/or Supplemental Security Income disability benefits do not had any medical records at all. Sometimes these are the very poor who have not been able to afford treatment. Some people have just given up on treatment. Other people have not had any recent treatment. The Social Security Administration must have fairly recent records to make a decision on your claim for Social Security disability benefits. How recent depends on what your condition is. For example, if you had your legs amputated due to diabetes, records that are eleven months old are recent enough because you are not going to grow new legs. However, for most other conditions, the Social Security Administration will want much more current records. Other people applying for disability benefits have had treatment for some conditions but not for one or more of conditions that they claim are disabling. For example, a woman might apply for Social Security disability benefits for arthritis but her only medical records are from her yearly visit to her gynecologist. Sometimes the person’s medical records don’t include some particular information that the Social Security Administration needs to make a decision. For example, a person with emphysema might have many records of treatment but the Social Security Administration requires a breathing test performed a certain way in order to make its decision. In all of these cases, the Social Security Administration will schedule the needed exam and send the person applying for benefits a letter notifying him of the examination.

            If the Social Security Administration schedules an examination for you to evaluate your claim for Social Security disability benefits, it will pay for the exam. If you are having trouble making travel arrangements for this examination, call your disability determination specialist. Sometimes they can help with travel costs or arrange for a taxi.

            If you are not able to attend the examination at the time scheduled for you, be sure to call your disability determination specialist right away to reschedule. If you do not go to your examination, your case may be denied. Once you are at your examination, be sure to cooperate fully. Failing to cooperate can result in a denial of your claim for Social Security disability benefits.

            The doctor who exams you is not an employee of the Social Security Administration or of your state's government. He or she is an independent contractor. These are doctors who practice in the community, and the Social Security Administration just hires them for one exam at a time as needed. If your own doctor is qualified to do the kind of exam that is needed, he or she will be asked if he is willing to do it. Some doctors will agree to do the Social Security Administration exams on their own patients; other doctors won’t. The doctor who does your examination does not make the decision on your Social Security and/or Supplemental Security Income disability case. He or she will simply make a report about the results of your examination. The Social Security Administration will decide whether or not you are not you are eligible for Social Security disability benefits.

            Many of different kinds of examinations may be ordered. The most common types are the internist examination, the mental status examination, and psychological testing. X-rays, blood work, and many other types of tests may also be ordered.

            A typical internist examination should consist of a history and a physical examination. If the person is having problems with his or her back or joints, the Social Security Administration requires passive range of motion in degrees on all affected joints.   This testing can be painful for people with painful joints. When I was a disability determination specialist, I often got complaints from people who complained about this testing. The Social Security Administration, however, requires this information; therefore, you should cooperate with the testing. The internist exam should not include a pelvic examination for women.

            In a typical mental status examination, the psychologist or psychiatrist will ask you about what problem you are having. Then, he or she will ask you a series of standard questions designed to evaluate your mental functioning. For example, he or she will give you a list of numbers to recite to test your memory.

            Psychological testing most often consists of intelligence testing. The psychologist performing the testing will ask you a series of standardized questions designed to evaluate your intellectual functioning.

Mental status examinations must be performed either by a psychiatrist (M.D.) or a psychologist.  Psychological testing, which includes intelligence testing, must be performed by a psychologist.  Psychologists include any one with one of the following titles:

·        “school psychologist”

·        “Ph.D., psychologist”

·        “Psy.D., psychologist”

·        “Ed.D., psychologist.”

            In Minnesota, Vermont, West Virginia, or Puerto Rico, psychologists also include persons with the following titles :

·        "M.A., psychologist"

·        "M.Psy., psychologist"

·        "M.Ed., psychol­ogist" 

All of these persons must be licensed to practice in whatever state they practice in. 

            If you have a complaint about the person performing your examination, send in a written complaint to your disability determination specialist. Sometimes reports that are phoned in don’t get the attention that they deserve, but a written report will have to be investigated in some way.

 

 

 

  

 


 
 

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