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Consultative Examination - How long will it take for a SSA disability decision?

Many Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income claimants assume that if the Social Security Administration has sent them to a consultative examination that this is a good sign for their claim and they are on their way to getting approved for SSA disability benefits.

When will I be sent to a consultative examination?

The Social Security Administration will only send Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income applicants to a consultative examination if they do not have enough medical evidence to determine from the claimant’s own medical records that they are disabled, the treating doctors failed to send the claimant’s medical records or the claimant has not seen the right doctor.

So right from the start, if you are scheduled for a consultative examination it means that your case lacks something significant: the proper medical files for a Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance disability determination. Unfortunately, this is never good.

How long after the Consultative Examination will I have to wait for a disability decision?

This question is very difficult to answer. If you have seen the consultative examiner you may have submitted your Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income application as many as three months prior. It may take an additional 30 to 90 days after the consultative examination for the consultative examiner to complete their report and send it back to Social Security Administration.

Processing times throughout the United States can also vary widely. There may be parts of the country which have a significant backlog of claims that must be processed.

If after the Disability Determination Services office receives the consultative examination report and finds the claimant disabled, according to the Social Security Administration they must “complete any outstanding non-disability development, compute the benefit amount, and begin paying benefits.” Unfortunately, there generally is a backlog of applications to process at every step in the Social Security Administration process.

How can I avoid a consultative examination?

Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income claimants who do not understand the disability evaluation process are frequently asking when the Social Security Administration will send them to a consultative evaluation or “medical exam” to determine disability.

This is a question only someone without knowledge of the disability decision making process would ask. The right question to ask is, “How can I avoid being sent to a consultative examiner?”

Consultative examinations should not be considered “medical care.” They are very cursory (often lasting for less than 10 minutes), they are generally not helpful to claimants, and they in no way should substitute for great, consistent medical care from a claimant’s treating physician.

So how do you avoid an examination? Go to the doctor. What if you do not have medical insurance? Find a way to prioritize medical care and go to the doctor. What if you are not following your doctor’s treatment plan? Find a way to follow your doctor’s treatment plan.

The bottom line for every Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income claimant is to get the best medical care that you can for your health conditions and do what your doctor recommends. If, after having done all of this, you still are unable to work for at least 12 continuous months, at least you will know you have done all you to help your disability claim.
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