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Home » Glossary » Mental Consultative Exam

Definition of Mental Consultative Exam

Claimants who have a serious mental health condition and file for disability insurance may be required to go to a mental consultative examination. Examinations are only requested by the Social Security Administration (SSA) if the claimant meets the nonmedical requirements for SSI or SSDI and the SSA determines they do not have enough medical evidence to decide if the claimant is disabled.

Mental consultative examiners are independent, mental health physicians who have a contractual arrangement with the Social Security Administration (SSA) to perform exams. Contrary to what many believe, the consultative examiner is not an "SSA doctor." They also do not determine whether a claimant is disabled. They only provide additional information about the claimant's condition and ability to work so the SSA can make a disability determination.

To complete the mental residual functional capacity assessment the consultative examiner will review the claimant's understanding and memory, their sustained concentration and persistence, sustained concentration and pace, adaptation and social interaction. Additionally, the C.E. will review how often the claimant has an episode of decompensation. Each of these criteria will be evaluated with the goal of determining whether or not the claimant has the capacity to work.

Mental consultative health examinations are cursory examinations, and many applicants complain that the consultative examiner did not spend enough time with them to understand their health condition. For this reason we recommend always getting the mental health help you need from your own mental health doctor and not relying on the mental consultative examination.

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