How To Prep for the CE


The CE Exam is a visit with the Social Security doctor. If Social Security would like you to go to an CE, they will write you a letter and let you know when and where.

Visits to the CE will usually happen 3-6 months after you first apply. In some cases they may ask you to go to a CE later in the process.

If you are the kind of person who likes to prepare, you’re in luck. There are plenty of things you can do ahead of time to help things go well.

Make a List

It may help you to bring a list with you. This can help you make sure you don’t forget anything important. If the doctor asks you these questions, you can read the list, or you can hand them the list:

  • Your current symptoms
  • Hospitalizations and procedures (bonus points: where, when)
  • Important past illnesses or injuries
  • Current medications (bonus points: dose, frequency)
  • List of side effects from each medication
  • Tests, exams, assessments (bonus points: when, where, findings)

Some people with memory problems said the doctor let their family member come in with them and answer these questions.

Bring Stuff With You

  • Super helpful: If you have a strong medical summary letter or function form from your own doctor, bring it a copy with you and hand it to the CE to keep. He may or may not read it. If he does read it, that can be a huge help. (hint: don’t hand him a whole big file, he will probably ignore it).
  • If you are going to a mental CE, bring a copy of a psychiatric assessment from your own doctor, if you have one.
  • Do not assume that the doctor will have access to your other records or will read your medical records. If anyone from Social Security or anywhere else tells you that the doctor has your records already, don’t believe them.
  • It is also helpful to bring copies of any relevant tests or medical reports to have on hand in case the doctor would like to see them.

Why to Bring Stuff With You

“I just got home from the Social Security doctor. Social Security has hundreds of medical records on me, but they didn’t send them to the doctor. For some reason they sent him one record: a random test from three years ago that said I had no problems. Never mind the books of positive blood work, failed to tilt table tests, hospital visits, ER trips, and the list goes on and on.” – BL

Get a Ride

Social security will reimburse your transportation to get to the CE. If you cannot afford to pay upfront, contact the person handling your case and request they arrange transportation for you. Some people report that they arranged to send a taxi to their house. Also, if you are on Medicaid, you can get free Medicaid transportation to all doctor’s appointments.

Get a Home Visit

If you are homebound or unable to travel to the CE for health reasons, Social Security policy is they must provide the CE in your home. When you make the request, it helps if you can submit some kind of letter from a doctor or case worker stating that you are homebound.

Employees at Social Security may not know this policies, so you may need to show them the policy make your request in writing, and be persistent. Always make your request in writing, and ask to speak to a supervisor if your request is not granted.

Anytime you are requesting that Social Security follow a policy, it is a good idea to contact your congressional rep, and ask if they can make a call on your behalf to ensure that this policy is being correctly followed.

Avoid The CE

If you already have good records from your own doctor, it is usually better if Social Security can just look at those. CE exams can be a mixed bag. Some lawyers recommend calling your Disability Examiner and asking what type of appointment it is and what kind of test they are looking for. Every now and then they request a test that is already in your file. If you send it to them or point it out to them, they may cancel the exam.

You can also request that the CE Exam be switched to your own doctor. Your own doctor would have to be willing to follow the Social Security guidelines, do the exam, and send them the report. You have a right to request your own doctor. Not very many people do this, but the people I have met who did this were all approved.

If you are able to avoid the CE Exam, this can be a huge help for your case. Here is some more information on how to request your own doctor and your rights during a CE.

Anytime you are requesting that Social Security follow a policy, it is a good idea to contact your congressional rep, and ask if they can make a call on your behalf to ensure that this policy is being correctly followed.

Bring a Buddy

Some lawyers suggest, “It is a good idea to bring a friend or family member with you to your exam to be a witness. Your witness can go into the exam room with you and note the time the exam began and ended and what the doctor did.” You can also write this information down yourself after the exam. This information may be useful to a lawyer later in the process.

All Ready?

Now that you’re all prepped… time to go to your CE.

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