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Disability Consultative Exams: A Different Kind Of Exam

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If you've been unable to work at your job because of a medical condition, you may have already filed for Social Security Disability. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has very strict guidelines for qualifying for benefits, particularly when it comes to proving how your medical condition prevents you from doing your job. If you have been asked by the SSA to undergo a special type of medical examination, called the consultative medical exam (CME), it is in your best interest to have a good understanding of why you are being asked to have the exam and what it could mean for your claim. Read on to learn more about the CME.

Why am I being asked to undergo this exam?

The SSA needs to know that you have been receiving medical treatment for the condition that you claim is preventing you from working at your job. If your medical records are incomplete, show gaps in treatment, or show that it's been some time since you received any medical treatment, that sends up a red flag to the SSA about the validity of your claim. While you can be denied outright for any of these reasons, sometimes the SSA presents you with an opportunity to prove that your medical condition is bad enough to have benefits.

For example, if you suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, which makes it impossible to do your job, you must be able to show that you have been to the doctor concerning your condition on a regular and recent basis, are following the doctor's treatment recommendations, and are taking all prescribed medications and treatments. If you fail to show this, you may be asked to undergo a CME.

What can I expect at this CME?

You should know that this exam is very different from other doctor's visits, but does share some similarities. It's important to understand that while you won't be charged for the exam, the doctor that performs the exam does so under contract with the SSA. You should not expect to receive any treatment as a result of this exam, so you should continue to rely on your usual medical doctor for any needs concerning your medical condition.

Just like other exams, however, you will have your vitals (blood pressure, temperature, pulse, weight, etc.) taken prior to the exam. The CME doctor will focus in on the medical condition that you claim is affecting your ability to do your job by viewing the body part or condition, manipulating body parts (if necessary) to gauge mobility and discomfort and questioning you about your illness. Sometimes, additional diagnostic tests will be ordered, such as an x-ray, blood work, etc.

You will receive the results of the exam within about 10 days, but expect delays. If your initial claim is denied, you may need the services of a Social Security attorney to get you through the appeals process. Click here to read more about working with a Social Security attorney.