What Should I Expect from my Social Security Disability Psychological Exam?

Aug 18, 2020 | Sara Khaki

Proving that you qualify for social security disability benefits involves undergoing various exams. This includes a psychological exam performed by a physician, psychiatrist, or psychologist who is paid by the Social Security Administration (SSA) but not employed by them. This distinction helps reduce potential bias in diagnosis or evaluation.

Who examines you will depend on whether you have any pre-existing conditions as well as the degree to which they impact your disability. It’s the responsibility of psychological evaluators to learn more about your mental health and overall condition as it pertains to your disability claim.

The Mental Status Exam

The psychological exam portion of an SS disability claim determines whether any mental impairments affect your ability to work and specifically looks to identify any reduced cognitive function. Your memory, awareness, mood, and language skills will all be evaluated by medical professionals in a Mental Status Exam (MSE).

You may be asked to remember a few words throughout the exam, discuss your childhood, view images, and describe what you see. Physicians may also look for indications of suicidal or homicidal thoughts and evaluate your hygiene and appearance to determine your ability to care for yourself.

If you have a history of psychiatric conditions such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, or mood disorders like anxiety and depression, you may be evaluated by a psychiatrist (MD). They will diagnose you and make recommendations on whether further evaluations and treatment or give opinions on work-related limitations.

Preparing for Your Exam

It’s best to arrive to your psychological exam well rested and prepared to spend time talking with the examiner. The exam could take longer to complete or be relatively short, depending on any pre-existing conditions you may have, so it’s best to let a social security disability lawyer help you prepare for either.

For example, a member of our team can help you prepare to discuss the history of any illnesses or conditions you have, including your physical and mental health, and how they prevent you from working. Let us help you compile a comprehensive work history so you can be as detailed as possible when answering the doctor’s questions. Having all your bases covered prior to the psychological examination can help make it a smoother visit for you.

Work with an Experienced Attorney

While it is possible to pursue SSD benefits on your own, you will likely have questions about the process that can best be answered by an experienced social security disability attorney. Navigating the application process is difficult for some, and psychological evaluations can be nerve-wracking.

If you have questions about the psychological examination, your appointment, or the questions you will be asked, our team can assist you. Contact the Khaki Law Firm today to learn more.

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