What Is the SSA Consultative Exam?
Sometimes, after you’ve submitted your application, you will receive word that you need to undergo an SSA consultative exam. This means that whoever reviewed your claim believes that you have not submitted enough information for them to come to a decision. You may be asked to submit to the exam if …
– The state has requested medical records and your doctor has not complied
– You have an illness or disability that the SSA thinks should be seen by a specialist
– You have an incomplete or inconsistent medical history.
The exam will be paid for by the state, not you. In some cases it will be performed by the individual’s regular doctor; in other cases, another physician contracted by the SSA will do the exam. The doctor will likely ask you lots of questions about your medical history, condition, and how it affects you. Depending on the nature of your disability, they may conduct a physical or psychological examination and order lab tests. The main difference between a consultative exam and your regular medical appointments is that the purpose of this visit is to assess the state of your health and your limitations. The doctor should not treat you or offer medical advice.
If you are asked to undergo a consultative exam, it’s important to be straightforward and honest with the physician. Never lie or exaggerate to increase your chances of being approved for benefits.
Social Security Disability Applications and Social Media
If, like so many Americans, you are on Facebook, Instagram, or other social media sites, you may want to tread carefully if you receive SSDI benefits or are in the process of applying. That’s because what you post may be used against you. A picture, of course, doesn’t tell the entire story of your disability. The point of social media is to project the image of your life that you want others to see — so you are likely to post the happy moments and refrain from showing the illness and pain. But the social security administration likes to keep all avenues open when evaluating applications, and they see the internet and social media as a potential tool. So, even seemingly innocent photos — of you holding your new grandchild, for example, or spending time in the garden on one of your rare good days — could be seen as proof that you are more able-bodied than your SSDI application claims. And avoid posting “throwback” photos — the person processing your claim may not realize that image of you skydiving is from your pre-injury days. No number of “likes” is worth putting your benefits at risk.
SSD is Not ‘Welfare.”
Some people wrongly refer to SSD as “welfare,” a broad term that describes some social assistance programs. But true welfare programs are for people whose income is below the federal poverty level. Any worker who meets SSA requirements may apply for disability benefits, regardless of their income. (Supplemental Security Income – SSI – is the SSA’s assistance program for people with low or no income).
SSD Benefits Cover More Than Workers
You may already know that to be eligible for SSD benefits, you must have worked enough to accumulate a sufficient number of “work credits.” But family members of a person who is receiving SSD benefits can also receive benefits, even if they don’t have enough (or any) work credits.
Family members who can apply are:
- A spouse
- Former spouse
- Disabled child
- Adult child disabled before age 22.
Each family member may receive up to 50 percent of the total disability rate, up to a maximum of 180 percent of the total disability rate. So, for example, if a person is receiving $1,000 a month in SSD payments, family members could also receive benefits, but not in excess of $800 per month. A spouse who is at least 60 can receive survivor’s benefits if the spouse receiving SSD passes away.