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Social Security Disability Consultative Examination: The Basics

A consultative examination is a medical or psychological exam that the Disability Determination Service (DDS) will request an individual undergo. A consultative exam essentially allows the individual applying for Social Security to provide more information and context for their disability claim. These exams are especially important in cases where the individual does not have a lot of medical treatment or records supporting their disability claim. In most cases, the DDS will arrange a consultative exam with an independent medical provider (not your treating doctor). These independent medical providers contract with the Social Security Administration (SSA) to perform the consultative examination and offer unbiased information about an individual’s disability. All of them are also required to be licensed physicians. The consultative exam will be scheduled with a specific physician examiner, and the individual will be notified of the specific date, time, and location which the consultative exam will take place. When an individual attends the consultative exam, the examiner will ask about their medical history and their subjective complaints. They will also conduct a physical examination and any specific tests requested by the DDS. It is important to note that the consultative exam is only an assessment. The examiner will not give their advice regarding treatment or their opinion as to whether an individual should be found disabled or not. Moreover, a consultative exam report will explain the individual’s medical history, their treatment history, results of a physical examination, any laboratory/imaging findings, and the limitations (if any) on the individual’s ability to perform work-related functions.

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