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Dear Jeanne

Hi Jeanne:

I have been dealing with CRPS since 2002. Fighting with Social Security almost as long. I have just been scheduled for another appt. They are now sending me to another doctor for a "M" exam. Cant find any info on this type of exam. Does anyone have a clue. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Robin

Hi Robin:

I was unable to find any info on an "M" exam but my guess is that the M stands for medical. Social Security sends claimants to doctors that they select and pay to conduct "independent" medical evaluation or consultative evaluations. These medical evaluations are not really independent, though, because Social Security is paying the doctors’ bills. Some doctors work only for Social Security because this work is more lucrative than private practice.

On the positive side, this can be a plus for claimants who can’t afford to go to doctors to get sufficient medical evidence to support their claim. Medical evidence is absolutely required to get a claim approved.

On the negative side, sometimes these doctors are not specialists in the condition a claimant may have and are not qualified to conduct the exam.

When you go for your exam, provide copies of all your previous doctor’s and test reports to the Social Security doctor. Ask about his/her area of specialty (get this in writing if possible). Ask about board certification and licenses. Make sure the "doctor" is really a doctor and not a student, intern or physician’s assistant.  

You have the right to request a more qualified specialist if need be. Put your request in writing.

Your case may hinge on what this doctor reports back to Social Security. Ask for a copy of his/her report. Sometimes they will provide a copy only to your doctor or attorney; if so, your doctor/attorney will give you a copy. If you find inaccuracies, send a letter requesting corrections.  

Prepare in advance so that you make the most of the time you have with the Social Security doctor. Communicate what work-related and daily living activities you cannot do because of your disability and why the inability to perform those tasks means you can’t work.

The doctor may put you through tests, such as to test your strength, memory, etc. If you feel any test is irrelevant to your impairment, say so.

You might want to get a copy of the book I co-authored with Carol J. Amato titled Persistence is Power! A Real-World Guide for the Newly Disabled Employee. Independent Medical Evaluations are discussed in more detail on pages 158, 159, 244 and 245. RSDSA has copies available at a very low price.

I wish you the best of luck. I sent up a prayer for you, too.

Jeanne Lazo

August 11, 2008