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Philadelphia Disability Lawyers Explain the Independent Medical Examination

Consultative ExamIn most disability claim cases, the claimant will treat with his or her own doctor. The patient has the full right to choose whichever doctor can best treat the medical problems provided his/her insurance company will pay for the treatment. Usually, the patient will start with a general physician and then see a specialist depending on what type of injury the patient has. The doctors keep records of these treatments which are available to the patient.

Why Social Security May Request a Consultative Examination

There is no Social Security requirement that someone who is hurting treat with a specific doctor. Still, sometimes Social Security will want to get more information about the claimant’s medical problems. This can be because the claimant has not treated with a doctor for a while or because the medical records are not complete.

Social Security Administration has the right to complete its medical investigation by requesting that the patient get an independent medical examination, commonly called a consultative examination. The purpose of the consultative examination is to get an updated medical opinion. It is not to treat the patient. Social Security does not have doctors on staff. Social Security will usually choose a doctor near to the claimant.

The medical exams may include:

  • Questions by the doctor about the claimant’s medical history and current complaints;
  • Diagnostic tests such as X-Rays and bloodwork;
  • A physical examination of the claimant for injuries, diseases and other physical problems;
  • A psychological review of claimant’s mental complaints.

Common Claimant Concerns

A request for a consultative examination, also called an independent medical exam or IME, is not an indication that the applicant will win or lose the case. It mainly means that Social Security has reviewed the claimant’s file and is actively working on its review.

If Social Security does request a consultative examination, the claimant is required to comply. Failure to attend the exam can result in a dismissal of the case. Applicants should review their case with their Social Security Disability attorney before they attend the exam. Some doctors are looking for a reason to deny the claim, so it is essential that claimants be prepared.

Common Social Security Disability Concerns about the Consultative Exam

The physician who performs the exam is not the treating doctor. The treating doctor knows the claimant’s physical or medical problems much better than the consulting doctors. The treating doctor has a much better knowledge of the patient, the patient’s disability and the patient’s inability to work.

Consultative exams are often short, often about 10 minutes, and do not address the claimant’s full medical problems.

Philadelphia Disability Lawyers at The Law Offices of Eric A. Shore Prepare the Applicant for the Consultative Exam

Philadelphia disability lawyers at the Law Offices of Eric A. Shore works with the treating doctors to make sure the medical records are complete and current – thus minimizing the need for a consultative exam. Call our firm today at 1-800-CANT-WORK (1-800-226-8967) for a free consult or complete our online contact form. We advocate for Social Security disability benefits for disabled workers countrywide.


*Attorneys at the Law Offices of Eric A. Shore handle Social Security Disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claims throughout the United States. Personal Injury, Workers' Compensation and other types of cases are only handled in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland.

National Headquarters are located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but we serve Social Security claimants in many communities throughout the United States including: New York, Miami, Tampa, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Dallas, San Antonio, Boston, Buffalo, Brooklyn, Newark, and Pennsauken.

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established. An attorney-client relationship is formed when the attorney and client both execute a retainer agreement.

© 2020 by Social Security Disability Law Offices of Eric A. Shore. All rights reserved.

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