In my work as a Detroit disability attorney, I represent individuals who have been denied Social Security disability benefits. Many of my clients are surprised to learn that the Social Security Administration does not make medical determinations of disability on initial applications. Instead, initial applications are referred to a Michigan Disability Determination Services (DDS) office. At Michigan DDS, a medical doctor and a non-doctor “disability examiner” evaluate your medical records and other information provided by your treating doctors, and make a medical determination as to whether you are disabled under the law. If the DDS team does not have enough information to make a disability determination, it may ask you to submit to a “consultative examination.”
A consultative examination is a physical or mental examination that generally is conducted by a doctor designated by the DDS, but may be conducted by your doctor, if the DDS agrees and your doctor is willing to perform the examination. A consultative examination may be requested if, for example:
- Your medical records are illegible.
- Your medical records are incomplete (e.g., your doctor failed to complete the DDS questionnaire or failed to submit requested records).
- Your diagnosis is inconclusive.
- Your diagnosis was not made by a medical specialist.
Following the examination, the examiner will submit a report to the DDS, stating his or her opinion as to whether you are disabled under the law. The DDS will consider the examiner’s report and opinion as one factor in making a final disability determination.
If your claim for Social Security disability benefits was denied based, at least in part, on the opinion of a consultative examiner, this denial may be in error. An experienced Detroit disability attorney can help with your appeal. If you are not currently represented by a Detroit disability attorney, please contact me. I would be happy to review the examiner’s report and talk with you about the examination (e.g., was it thorough and complete; how long did it last; did it focus on the impairment for which you are claiming disability; did the doctor behave professionally?) and its significance to your case.