Close to 10 million people are getting disability benefits in the United States.  The disability application process can be complicated and frustrating.  A claim is decided only after it goes through a rigorous screening process. Fewer than 4 in 10 applicants can expect to eventually receive benefits.  After you have applied for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income benefits, you may receive a notice that schedules you for a Consultative Examination (CE).

The Social Security Administration (SSA) sends you a written notice in the mail containing the name and address of the doctor, and the date and time of your scheduled Consultative Examination.

A claimant can use the Consultative Examination to show the doctor what physical or mental conditions are making it impossible for him or her to do a full-time job.  The SSA could deny you benefits if you fail to appear for the scheduled Consultative Examination. 

Reasons For Scheduling A Consultative Examination

 Usually, the SSA schedules a Consultative Examination during the first six months of the application if:

  • There is insufficient medical evidence in your file to determine the existence or severity of a disability.
  • Your treating doctor has not thoroughly documented your physical or mental condition.
  • Your treating doctor has failed to respond to additional information requests from the SSA.
  • You have not seen a qualified doctor for a considerable period of time.

A request for a Consultative Examination should not dampen your hopes of getting approved for disability benefits.  It can also indicate that there is enough evidence in your file for your condition to qualify for disability benefits.

Who Schedules The Consultative Examination?

After you have filed a disability benefits application with the local Social Security Field Office in North Carolina, your claim is sent to the Disability Determination Services (DDS) which is a federally-funded state agency.

The DDS gathers medical evidence and renders an initial decision as to whether or not a claimant is disabled.  If the DDS is of the opinion that additional medical information is needed to make a disability determination, a Consultative Examination may be scheduled.

 What Is A Consultative Examination?

A Consultative Examination is conducted to assess your current medical condition, as well as the limitations that prevent you from working full time.   The Consultative Examination may be physical or psychological in nature.  The motive behind the Consultative Examination is not to provide you with medical advice or treatment.

The SSA has carefully outlined the requirements for Consultative Examinations.  The Consultative Examination may include additional tests such as vision tests, blood work, X-rays, or MRIs. The Examination report contains medical history, the results of your assessment, your treatment history as well as findings with regard to your ability to perform work-related functions. The report should be complete enough to enable any independent reviewer to determine the nature and severity of the impairment.

Who Performs The Consultative Examination?

If your treating doctor has the necessary expertise and equipment to carry out a Consultative Examination, the SSA may request him or her to perform it. 

The DDS arranges for an independent and impartial doctor to perform the Consultative Examination if your treating doctor refuses to perform it, or there is some confusion in your treating doctor’s report, or if the DDS has reservations about the skills of your doctor.

Doctors who perform Consultative Examinations must have a good understanding of the SSA’s disability programs and their evidence requirements.  Such a doctor is not employed by the SSA and must be licensed to practice.

Usually, you are assigned a doctor who practices close to you.  The doctor will perform the Consultative Examination as per SSA guidelines and submit a comprehensive report which is duly signed and reviewed by him or her.  The DDS bears the costs associated with the Consultative Examination.

Tips On How to Prepare For A Consultative Examination

Some tips that can help you to prevail in a Consultative Examination include:

  • Arrive for your scheduled Consultative Examination a few minutes early.
  • Gather all latest and relevant medical records to take along with you.
  • Prepare a medical timeline of what symptoms you developed, what treatment you sought, the diagnosis you got, and the period of hospitalization that you underwent.
  • Take all your prescription and non-prescription medicines along with you.
  • Give precise and accurate answers. Perform the tasks you are asked to complete to the best of your ability.
  • Prepare to verbally explain how your condition limits you. Do not exaggerate your limitations, and do not hide the truth either.
  • Tell the doctor what your daily struggles are and the challenges you face on a regular basis.
  • Take a friend or family member along with you who will carry the documents, reports, and records that you require during the Consultative Examination.


Attorney Charlie Hall has handled hundreds upon hundreds of disability claims, and is here to answer your questions and help you best position your case.  Attorney Charlie Hall is a board-certified specialist in Social Security Disability Law, which requires attorneys to focus their practice on disability law, undergoing a rigorous peer review, and successfully completing competency testing.


Applying for Social Security Disability benefits can be a complex process in North Carolina with many potential hurdles that can lead to a rejection or unnecessary delays. 

North Carolina Disability Lawyer Charles F. Hall, IV knows the Social Security system.  He possesses the experience and expertise needed to help Social Security Disability claimants successfully navigate this enormous government bureaucracy.

Many claimants are skeptical about hiring a disability attorney as they may be struggling financially due to their impairments.   Attorney Charlie Hall provides 100% free legal services until the case is won.  At that point, you pay a portion of your back pay (25%, capped currently by Federal law at $6,000).

Contact us today for a FREE, NO OBLIGATION consultation.  In that consultation, we can advise you on how to strengthen your disability claim with the Social Security Administration.