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What is a Social Security Disability Mental Exam?

by Megan Roth5 min read
social security disability mental exam

If there are indications of mental health problems in your disability file, Social Security disability examiners are required to evaluate them and conduct a Social Security disability mental exam. This information could be included in your application form and medical records.


In the event that there is not enough information about your mental state in the medical records you provided, Social Security will send you an independent psychiatrist to conduct a social security disability mental exam, also called a mental consultative exam.


Why is a Social Security Disability Mental Exam Required?

A mental consultative exam may be required because there is no recent medical information in your file. Social Security requires recent medical information in your application documents before a decision about your Social Security disability application can be made.


Disability applicants who list ongoing mental conditions such as depression, anxiety, insomnia, or other mental disabilities on their application and have not received medical treatment for their mental condition within the past 60 days are subject to this exam. Without a recent medical evaluation to inform Social Security of your current mental state, the examiners will not be able to close your case which means they will deny your benefits, so they will order a psychological consultative exam in order to obtain up-to-date information about your mental health.

Why is a Social Security Disability Mental Exam Required?

At other times, you may also be sent for mental testing even if you did not indicate a mental condition in your application. An example of such a scenario is when you apply for disability benefits for your joint problems but the doctors were not able to find physical evidence to support your claim.


How are Mental Exams Performed?

A Social Security disability mental exam or a mental consultative exam is a one-time visit with either a psychiatrist or a psychologist who will perform an examination to you. This doctor or expert will be paid by the Social Security to do a standard mental evaluation.


Examiners use various mental evaluation processes to address potential mental health issues. Some mental exams involve IQ testing and memory testing specifically if you have indicated learning disabilities, a decline in mental functioning due to stroke or other brain disorders, or suffer from mental retardation.


Applicants who have alleged personality or mood disorders such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia are most likely to be sent to a psychiatric evaluation.