What Happens at a Mental Exam with the Social Security Doctor?

39139184_1804038602964702_2918036111303376896_nThe Sleepy Girl Guide to Social Security Disability

How To Hang with the Social Security Doctor

Art: Robin Mead  Art: Elizabeth D’Angelo

Updated: 6/1/19

The Consultative Exams (CE) is an appointment with a Social Security doctor. A CE can be a mental exam or a physical exam. Here’s what you can expect at a mental exam:

🌺 Mental or Psychiatric CEs are usually around 45 minutes. However, sometimes they just do a mental status exam which takes about 15 minutes.

🌺 You may meet with two people. The first person may be an intake person who asks questions, and the second person will be the doctor.

🌺 You will probably be asked some questions to test your memory and cognitive ability. For example: Who is the president? How do you spell your name? Can you remember three words I say to you? Can you still remember the three words ten minutes later? What is 100 – 7? How do you spell “world”? How do you spell it backwards?

🌺 Most other questions will be standard psychological questions about your mental health. They will also ask about your family history and personal background

🌺 The doctor will also note someone’s appearance and behavior – how they are dressed, if they make eye contact, if they appear clean and bathed, if they are able to carry on a conversation, how much they struggle to remember and answer questions, etc. Here’s a good article on what doctors observe during a mental exam. Here’s a story from someone who was approved based on doctor’s observations: Acacia Gets Approved Through Clinical Observations

🌺 The doctor may also look for signs of malingering or “faking it”. They may be concerned if they observe that someone is not really trying their hardest and best to answer the questions.

🌺 If you have problems with memory, focus or concentration, it can be a big help to get your own testing done. Do not rely on the Social Security doctors for an accurate report. How to Get Neuropsychological Testing While Applying for Disability

Can You Manage Your Own Finances?

This is a common question during mental CE exams.

Your answer can have a big impact on the rest of your life. It is up to you how you want to answer. If a doctor writes that you cannot handle finances, then after your case is approved, you will not be allowed to manage your own disability money. You will need to select someone you trust to handle your disability money for you, or social security may appoint someone. 

We should probably mention: Many people who have representative payees hate this arrangement. Once you get into this situation it is very difficult or impossible to get out of. Learn more about Representative Payees.

Other Questions That Sometimes Come Up

“What Activities Do You Do? How Do You Spend Your Days?”

“Why Can’t You Work?”

Why Haven’t You Been Seeing a Doctor Regularly? Or Why Aren’t You Taking Medications?

If You Have ME, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Lyme or a Related Condition

Many people with these conditions hate being sent to a mental health appointment and try hard to prove that their condition is physical not mental.  This may make you feel better emotionally, but it may also cause you to lose your disability case. Learn a bit more about: How to Include Mental Health.

Learn More

Detailed overview of what to expect, how to prepare,  and everything that will happen the day of your CE: How To Hang with the Social Security Doctor

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