The Consultative Exams (CE) is an appointment with a Social Security doctor. A CE can be a mental exam or a physical exam.
If Social Security would like you to go to a CE, they will write you a letter and tell you when and where to go.
If you get sent to CE, do not worry. Many people are sent to CEs and it does not mean anything special about your case when this happens.
These exams most often happen a few months after you first apply. Sometimes they also happen when people who are already on disability come up for a review. Occasionally they happen at other times. You may be sent to a physical exam or a mental exam or both.
Sometimes CE exams make a difference, but in other cases, the results of CE exams have little or no affect on the outcomes of applications.
The Game of Low Expectations
It may be helpful to keep in mind that the CE doctor is just there to give you a small exam and write down the results.
They have no power to decide your case, they will not treat you or help you with your condition, and it is rare that they will find anything new that helps your claim.
CE doctors are not Social Security employees. They are just regular doctors making a few extra bucks performing these exams on the side. It will make no difference to them if your application is approved or not. They will never know what happens and never hear about you again.
Some CE doctors are very nice, but some people report that their CE doctor was rude or rushed. Keep your expectations low, and you won’t be disappointed.
Before the Exam
🌺 Here are some things you can do to help your visit go more smoothly: How to Prep for the CE
🌺 If you are homebound or unable to travel to the CE for medical reasons, Social Security has a policy that they should provide the CE in your home. How to Request the Social Security Doctor Come to Your House
🌺 You have the right to request your own doctor perform the exam. It is not easy to get this approved, but if you are willing to advocate for yourself, it may be possible: How To Request that Your Own Doctor Perform the Consultative Exam
When You Arrive
🌺 There is a good chance someone will observe or ask you how you got there, how far you traveled, if you needed someone to accompany you, and if you were able to drive a car.
🌺 They may also note other things, such as your ability to walk, stand, sit, hold a conversation, fill out a form, etc.
🌺 They may note how you behave in the parking lot, waiting room, and doctor’s office.
You may be sent to a Physical CE or Mental CE or both. The letter you get should tell you what kind of exam you are going to. Here’s what happens during the exam:
Tip: Don’t expect the doctor to know anything about you or your history. They may or may not have been sent some of your medical records. If they were sent anything, it is usually a small selection, and the doctor may or may not have reviewed them.
Sleepy Girl Tips for a Great CE Exam
🌺 If you are having a hard day, don’t hide it. Try not to be shy or embarrassed about letting the doctor see how bad things are for you. Remember: It’s half an hour of your life. You will never see this person again. How to Stop Hiding From Your Doctor
🌺 It is usually recommended to just be yourself. If someone looks or acts one way at their regular doctor, and then a totally different way at the Social Security doctor, this may cause problems.
🌺 Some doctors make notes about the patient’s appearance and behavior. Examples of things doctors observe and write about.
After the Exam
🌺 If you are applying for disability, you may find it helpful to read your CE report. Some states will automatically send you a form asking if you would like a copy of the report sent to your doctor.
🌺 You can also get a copy of the report (plus everything else in your file) by requesting a copy of your case file. This can be done during any appeal stage (after you have been denied at least once). Here’s how to request your file and check your records.
🌺 If you brought any medical records and gave them to the doctor. THIS DOES NOT MEAN ANYONE AT SOCIAL SECURITY WILL EVER SEE THEM. It is fine to bring some records with you to the doctor, but this is not the right way to submit records to the person who makes the decision.
🌺 It is a very very good idea to stay in touch with the person who is deciding your case and find out exactly what records they do and don’t have. Learn more about How to Stay In Touch with Your Disability Examiner
There are lots of good articles floating around the internet about these CE exams, and you can find some here:
🌺 Video of a mental status exam. Your exam may be different than this.
🌺 Complete Guide: The Sleepy Girl Guide to Social Security Disability
Updated: January 2020. Please comment below with stories, questions, input or ideas. Please let us know if any links on this page stop working.