Psychiatric CE exam social security

Recently I went to a CE physical exam and the doctor did think I was disabled...Yesterday my case worker called me which caught me by surprise because they hardly ever call..anyways she wanted me to go for a mental evaluation... Have any of you gone to a mental evaluation, what questions did they ask you...Please help...also how long did the exam last...my physical exam was about 5 to 10 min...

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Sal85,
Individuals who file for disability benefits are subject to the discretion of SS professionals to undergo a Social Security consultative exam (CE). You might be sent to consultative mental examinations if you have no current mental health treatment notes or no record of mental health treatment at all. If you have a documented history of visits with a mental health professional that is up to date (within 90 days), you shouldn't be sent to a consultative mental exam. The consulting doctor will perform one of the following mental exams during a CE.

Psychiatric exam. These exams are performed by a psychiatrist (MD) vs. a psychologist. Psychiatric exams are used to evaluate those with psychosis or affective or mood disorders (such as anxiety or bipolar depression).

Psychological exam. Psychological exams are used to evaluate symptoms that point to reduced cognitive function (low IQ) and for claimants with little education or a history of enrollment in special needs courses in public school.

Mental status exam (MSE). An MSE is a common exam used to evaluate one's memory, language skills, and awareness regarding their surroundings. During an MSE, you may be asked to recall items on a list after reading it, count by fives, name the current President, tell the examiner about your childhood, interpret what is going on in a picture, and so on.

Memory scale exam. This exam is used specifically for those who report short-term memory loss. Examples of people who may be asked to participate in this exam are stroke victims, people with traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer's, and so on, although just about anyone could be sent for a memory scale if they listed severe short-term memory loss on their disability application.

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Thank you NF1Padre,

That is useful information. The exam I will be going to is a Psychiatric examination...I suffer from Chronic Anxiety and Chronic depression mostly due to my NF1. I also take medication such as Xanax, Ranitidine, Paxil and Arenolol... I just wanted to know if anyone has been to one of these appointments...like what will I be asked and so forward...Thank you..

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"Chronic Anxiety and Chronic depression mostly due to my NF1"

Sal,
Not to worry, it's a good rule of thumb to give the exams (they won't be 5-10 mins) actual renditions and best efforts of your ability. Your Psych CE is likely due to your mental state challenges being noted by you as being of a secondary nature, and/or you have little or no documentation of said conditions and affect. Yet, the meds you take suggest a wide range of BOTH physical and psychiatric conditions are being treated. Thus, the psychiatric CE seems a natural extension to uncover the degree of the psychiatric conditions and to so assess. There is much known about the adult disability process, but very little about children which is my personal concern.

Anyway, I hope you find more info specific to your situation, including examiners' take, along with potential questions you might be asked.

Part I - Consultative Examinations for Social Security Disability and SSI

If you file for social security disability or SSI disability, there is always the chance that, during the processing of your claim, you may be sent to what is known as a consultative examination. Consultative exams are scheduled in two basic types of scenarios: A) When a claimant has not been seen by a treatment specialist (this could be a physician or psychiatrist) for an appreciable amount of time or B) when a claimant has a condition for which he or she does not seem to have any medical record documentation.

In the case of A, claimants are often sent to mental or physical exams if they have not been seen by a treatment specialist for 60 days. Why? Because before social security can make a decision on a disability case, they need to be sure that the decision is being rendered on the basis of recent records. After all, conditions change over time. They worsen, get better, and how a claimant is doing in the present may not be the same as how they were doing two months ago.

In the case of B, it is fairly common that a person who has applied for disability benefits will list depression or anxiety on a disability application while never having been treated for either.

In either scenario, though, a claimant may be sent to a consultative exam. Consultative exams are often referred to as social security medical exams. However, contrary to myth, they are not performed by social security doctors. They are actually conducted by independent private physicians, psychiatrists, and psychologists who have agreed to examine disability claimants in return for compensation.

Examinations of this sort are typically fairly short, sometimes lasting as little as ten minutes for physical exams. Mental exams, of course, due to the nature of the testing, are generally longer.

After a consultative examination has been conducted, the physician, psychologist, or psychiatrist who conducted the exam will submit a report to either the disability examiner or the disability judge who requested the exam. In general terms, the individual who conducted the exam is expected to have this report completed and sent within 10 days of the examination.

Can the results of a physical or mental exam make the difference between winning a disability case or losing a disability case? In all honesty, in most cases, the exam does not make much of a difference and it only serves to provide a recent snapshot of a claimant's case (so the adjudicator, or decision-maker, can close the case). However, in the case of mental impairment claims (depression, bipolar disorder, OCD), the results of a mental evaluation can provide what is needed to "push" a case toward an approval or denial.

Part 2 - Questions that are asked on Social Security Mental Exams

If you are sent to a mental examination for a social security disability or SSI disability case, it will fall into one of the following categories: A) A full psychiatric exam, B) A psychological exam that basically equates to an IQ test, C) a mental status exam (MSE) or D) a memory scale (typically for claimants who report difficulty with short term memory).

A memory scale may be ordered for a claimant who has suffered a head injury or a stroke. As an examiner, I've also seen memory scales ordered for claimants with depression and fibromyalgia. Very often, the type of exam a claimant is sent to will depend on the symptoms they list on their disability application and the severity of the symptoms as they describe them. A psychiatric exam conducted by an MD will usually be reserved for individuals with mood disorder, affective disorders, and psychotic disorders. Psychologicals (as we said, basically an IQ test) are often ordered for individuals for whom the record indicates a decline in cognitive ability. Psychologicals are also ordered for claimants with low educational attainment or a history of accomodation in the public school system (special classes).

Mental Status Exams, however, are some of the more frequently given mental exams for social security disability and SSI claims. The purpose of an MSE is to gauge a person's thought processes, memory, language skills, and orientation (i.e. where they are, who they are, when it is, and who others are).

What are some of the questions that get asked?

Here are just a few examples: being asked to remember specific items several minutes later; being asked who the current President is; being asked to interpret a common metaphor that most individuals would understand; being asked to count backward subtracting a certain number along the way.

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