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What Is the Mental Evaluation for Social Security Disability? 

What Is the Mental Evaluation for Social Security Disability? 

Whether you are filing a claim or an appeal with the SSA (Social Security Administration) in order to receive financial support, medical evidence is required. The SSA never decides on a case without adequate, valid, and accurate medical evidence, and they will turn to your treating physicians to get those records.  

The goal is to make a fair evaluation of the level of your impairment, and should there be no records that depict an accurate and clear overview of your level of disability (or you have yet to be treated for the condition), the SSA will run a CE or consultative exam, or CE. 

The exams can be medical or mental exams or evaluations, and they will pay for any they request or order. 

What Kind of Exam is Performed? 

The SSA indicates that all records have to be recent, i.e. within the past 90 days. If you haven’t visited a physician within that time, the CE is required. There are a few ways that the SSA evaluates mental disabilities and they perform one or more of the following exams, as deemed necessary: 

  • Psychiatric exam – used to evaluate for mood disorders such as bipolar depression or anxiety, or conditions like psychosis. They are done by a psychiatrist (MD) and not a psychologist. 
  • Psychological exam – used to evaluate symptoms that might indicate low cognitive function or low IQ. They are often assigned to claimants who have had little formal education or who may have required special needs education during their years of education. 
  • Mental status exam (MSE) – typically used to evaluate a claimant’s current mental state and involves testing of their memory and language skills, mood, and level of awareness. 
  • Memory scale exam – used for those with short-term memory loss, it can be used for a wide array of claimants, including those with TBI or Alzheimer’s, among other issues. 

What Happens During the Exam? 

Exams are done only once and feature the basics of a standard mental evaluation, based on needs. For example, there could be tasks as simple as reading or writing, as well as discussions about your current mood. The claimant may be asked about current events or have recollection tested.   

What Happens After the Exam? 

The professional who performs the exam (it will always be a psychiatrist or psychologist) will have to send a written report to the DDS (Disability Determination Service) agency within 10 days of performing an evaluation. This report will supply a medical opinion of your actual and current state of health. The medical expert is given space to write a full opinion. The determination process then begins and can take between 90 and 120 days of the filing. This period is used by the SSA to evaluate a claimant’s financial and non-medical factors, capacity for work, and more. To receive an approval for disability, a mental condition must prevent someone from working in any gainful activity. If a mental health issue has been evaluated and deemed an impediment to work, the claim is approved and financial support will begin. 

For those eager to begin the process of an evaluation by the SSA, it is best to work with legal experts who can help, such as the Jorgensen Law, with many resources and answers.