For many years, I have been describing how virtually every single State agency examiner who processes applications for Social Security Disability benefits insists that claimants must attend consultative examination “CE”s. Almost every CE is scheduled in violation of the Social security rules and regulations, and results in a waste of time and taxpayer money. By demanding a CE, the State agency is saying it does not believe what the treating doctor says. Notably, ALJ Kilgannon just said the same thing during a hearing last week, which shows that the aforementioned concept is not limited to the State agency.
I represent a 54 year old former carpenter with knee, neck, back, and shoulder impairments. On May 21, 2018, the State agency told the claimant he had to attend CEs for his knee and depression. Ignoring my May 23, 2018 letter detailing why a CE was improper, the State agency rescheduled them on May 31, 2018.
When the State agency sent a reminder letter about the CEs on June 1, 2018, we faxed a letter advising the State agency that the claimant neither has, nor claimed, a mental impairment. Nonetheless, on June 14, and 15, 2018, the State agency sent additional letters to remind the claimant about the CEs. After a series of calls, the State agency finally agreed that a CE was not needed to address a mental impairment.
The good news is that the claimant’s SSD benefits were approved last week without a hearing. The bad news is that the attempt to compel the claimant to submit to a mental CE must have delayed the processing of the application. There was nothing in the application regarding a mental impairment. There was no medical record regarding any mental problem. No psychotropic medication was prescribed for the claimant.
Did the State agency fail to review the file properly when scheduling the mental CE? Does the State agency or its examiners have an undisclosed incentive to schedule needless CEs? I suspect we will still be asking these questions for the unforeseeable future.
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