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When you apply for Social Security disability benefits, the medical record is not always sufficient for a disability determination. A disability examiner (or an administrative law judge) may schedule a consultative exam (CE) with a physician or a psychologist to assist them in assessing your medical condition and functional limitations. 

The claimant should plan on attending this exam, but talk with your disability lawyer first. Because some doctors that perform CEs are better than others, and your own doctor is the best of all.

We have one local doctor, an orthopedist, who does a thorough CE and always includes a medical source statement. His report is almost always helpful to the claimant's case. However, sometimes DDS assigns the CE to a different local doctor. The second doctor – and I am not making this up – is a proctologist, which may not be what you want (at least metaphorically) for your disability consultative exam. His examination and reports tend to be more perfunctory, and rarely help the claimant in my experience. 

I intervened recently in one of these. I cancelled the CE scheduled by Social Security, because the claimant was able to schedule an examination with her primary care physician. Her doctor completed a medical source statement that should be very helpful to the claim.  

A CE conducted by the claimant's treating doctor is preferred under Social Security's rules. See POMS DI 22510.010 section B. However, it is often difficult to get the claimant's doctor to do the CE. Social Security does not pay much for the exam, so most doctors decline the opportunity.

Read the posts below for differing perspectives on consultative exams: