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SSA- Why did I see the Consultative Examiner for five minutes?

Recently on our forum we had a claimant ask, “Why did I see the disability doctor if they were only going to spend five minutes with me?” This question goes to heart of what I have been saying for years: Do not rely on the "disability doctor" who is actually called the Consultative Examiner to help you win Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Unfortunately, the consultative examiner cannot generally provide the right information to help you win your disability case.

Seal of the United States Social Security Admi...



The consultative examiner is an independent consultant not a disability doctor. They are not a disability doctor and they do not work directly for the Social Security Administration (SSA). Ideally, they are providing a thorough evaluation of your condition which provides enough medical evidence to the SSA for the SSA to make a determination whether or not you are disabled.

Unfortunately, because the Consultative Examiner is busy and may not have a lot of time to spend with you their information cannot possibly be as comprehensive and thorough as information provided by a doctor you have seen multiple times.

What does the Consultative examiner provide to the SSA?


After you consultative examination the Consultative Examiner or disability doctor is supposed to provide a report back to the SSA. This report will include a physical description of you, information about yourmedical records, documents reviewed during the course of the evaluation and information about your current medical history.

Medical history provided will also include the following:

  1. History of the onset and progress of your disorder

  2. A statement of your current symptoms

  3. The type and resultant effect of any treatment you have received

  4. A description of your typical daily activities

  5. The dates and results of your relevant hospitalizations, surgical operations, and diagnostic procedures.


The C.E. will also review your past medical history including any illnesses, injuries, operations, and diagnostic procedures. They will review your medications, including how often you have to take medication and whether or not your medications interfere with your ability to work.

Next they will perform a physical with a review of all of your systems, your family history and information regarding your use of drugs or alcohol. They will also evaluate your behavior, any apparent “abnormalities” and your nutritional status.

Medical Source Statement


The most important information provided by the Consultative Examiner is their medical source statement. This includes information about your limitation to work, which is derived from your medical history, their observations during the examination, and medical tests (if relevant). They will also note any discrepancies in their evidence. Specifically, the C.E. will evaluate your ability to:

  1. Lift/carry/push/pull

  2. Sit/stand/walk

  3. Posture (for example, climbing/stooping/bending/balancing/crawling/ kneeling/crouching)

  4. Fine motor skills (handling/fingering/gripping/feeling)

  5. Overhead and forward reaching

  6. Vision/hearing/speech

  7. Environmental exposures (for example, heat/cold/humidity/noise/vibration)


Bottom Line about the Consultative Examiner


As mentioned above, it is difficult for a doctor to see a claimant one time for ten or fifteen minutes and accurately determine their ability to perform work. It is best to find your own doctor, develop a strong doctor/patient relationship and get the right evidence to win your SSDI or SSI case without going to the consultative examiner.


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