By Alexander Avila-Velazquez
When applying for disability benefits with the Social Security Administration (SSA), one of the most important parts of your application is strong medical evidence.
This includes notes from your office visits, discharge summaries, consultation reports, and all other information found within your medical records. However, when the SSA decides that this evidence is inadequate in proving disability, they may arrange for a consultative exam. Sometimes, these exams are not helpful and may even weaken your claim, leading to a potential denial of benefits.
In theory, consultative exams should provide the SSA with a better understanding of your physical and emotional limitations. However, they may fail to do so because of how the SSA schedules these exams. Currently, the SSA outsources this task and hires local contracting medical providers to conduct these exams. Not all physicians that conduct consultative examinations handle them with the appropriate level of attention and care that they require.
One recent example of this problem comes from Kansas City, Missouri, where multiple claimants have alleged fraudulent exams from Midwest CES, one of the many contractors hired by the SSA. One claimant reports being unable to work because of “a series of ailments, including her carpal tunnel in both wrists, hip surgery, neck pain, back pain, constant migraines, and arthritis.” Accordingly, even though the consultative examiner spent less than 10 minutes with her and took note of her ability to “use her fingers and hands to button and unbutton a shirt,” the claimant was not wearing a buttoned shirt during her exam. More reports from the Kansas City region allege similar stories, where the doctors would take note of a patient’s ability to use doorknobs even though the exam room did not have any. This is important to understand because, when this information is presented before a decision-maker, it could weaken your claim and lead to a denial. As a result, there is a series of civil lawsuits against the SSA, Midwest, and the doctors conducting these exams.
As you can see, navigating through the process of Social Security disability benefits can be a challenge for those without the proper knowledge and/or resources. We cannot emphasize the value of strong medical evidence in a Social Security claim. Therefore, you should work closely with your medical providers to generate thorough and accurate records of your symptoms and limitations. Doing this not only helps prove disability and strengthen your claim, but it could help you avoid these exams.
In closing, we highly recommend hiring an experienced disability benefits attorney to help with the application process. If you have any questions regarding consultative exams or Social Security Disability claims in general, please contact our office for a free consultation.
About Andalman & Flynn, P.C.: Founded in 1998 in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland, Andalman & Flynn has forged a distinguished reputation for legal excellence. The firm represents individuals seeking disability benefits throughout the country and practices family law throughout Maryland and the District of Columbia. The firm focuses on cases that impact the rights of everyone and are there for clients when responsive legal help is most critical. The firm has provided legal analysis on national and local television and radio, and their attorneys often testify before legislative bodies and are routinely invited to contribute to prominent legal publications. For more information about Andalman & Flynn, please visit the website at andalmanflynn.com or call 301.563.6685.