What is the Social Security Disability Psychological Exam?

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People that cannot work for at least one year due to a psychological condition like depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia may qualify for Social Security disability benefits. They must complete an application for benefits and prove they cannot work. If you pass the application process, you can receive monthly cash payments and after a while, Medicare. If your income is low, you may qualify for Medicaid, subsidized housing and/or job training.

If You Apply for a Psychological Disability

  • If you apply for disability benefits for a psychological condition like depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder or an anxiety disorder, you'll be asked to provide names and contact information for all caregivers that have treated you for your condition. If you have copies of any medical records of your treatment, forward those to the Social Security Administration as well. The Social Security Administration will request copies of your most recent records, but you can send copies of all relevant records and they will consider them.

Exam by a Doctor of Their Choosing

  • Sometimes the Social Security Administration claims reviewers feel they need more information than they find in your medical records. In that case, they will ask you to undergo an examination by a doctor of their choosing. The Social Security Administration pays for the exam but the physician does not work for them directly, so you should get a fair and impartial opinion.

Components of the Exam

  • The psychological exam includes a diagnosis, a statement about the severity of the condition and a prognosis. The evaluator estimates how long the person in question will be unable to work due to his mental health condition.

Who Conducts the Exam?

  • A psychologist, licensed professional counselor, licensed independent social worker or psychiatrist can conduct the psychological exam. Ask about the qualifications of the professional conducting the exam if you have concerns. The person conducting the exam should be familiar with the condition of the person being examined; for instance, someone that specializes in depression but knows little about schizophrenia should not conduct the psychological exam on someone with schizophrenia. You can also ask for a second opinion if you like.

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