Social Security Disability Consultative Exams: What To Know

If you have not been able to work at your job and have filed for Social Security Disability (SSDI) you may have been asked to participate in a consultative medical exam (CME). The Social Security Administration (SSD) normally requests that you undergo this exam when they need more information about your medical condition. If you have not recently had medical treatment for your condition, the SSA may need to verify that you do indeed have a qualifying condition. The request for this exam could mean that the SSA is questioning your medical condition, so it's in your best interest to fully understand what the CME means. Read on for more info. 

What is the purpose of the CME?

Usually the SSA requests this exam when you have submitted incomplete medical records, or very little evidence of your medical condition. The SSA needs to see an almost-unbroken series of doctor's appointments and treatments, since only serious and on-going medical conditions merit approval. In other words, it's not enough to be too sick to go to work, you must prove how bad your condition is by seeking medical treatment and continuing any treatments, prescribed medications, lab tests ordered, etc. Often, the request for the CME is the final step in your application process.

What occurs during this exam?

You must use the doctor that the SSA chooses for this exam, and there is no charge for the appointment. You should understand that this exam is just that, an exam only; you will not receive any treatment during this exam. The exam itself begins like many: your vitals are checked (weight, blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, etc) and then the doctor will closely examine you by focusing on the body part or condition that is affecting your inability to work at your job. The doctor may order additional tests, like an x-ray, MRI, blood test, etc. The doctor will question you about your condition and if pertinent, manipulate your affected body part to determine mobility or the presence of discomfort.

What is the next step?

There is a deadline of 10 days for the doctor to submit the result and opinion of your medical condition, but delays are to be expected, especially if the doctor is awaiting lab results. Once your results are evaluated by the SSA, you will be informed by mail of the determination. This final step may result in a denial, but you must undergo the exam in order to obtain the denial. The denial is likely very disappointing, but is a necessary step to move forward toward an appeal hearing.

Denials on initial SSDI applications are not uncommon, so don't become discouraged and give up. Contact a Social Security attorney to help you with your appeal hearing, where you wil l have another chance to get the benefits that you need and deserve.