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Social Security wants you to go for a psych evaluation when deciding your claim: Why?

It shouldn’t alarm you if the Social Security Administration (SSA) notifies you that you need to undergo a psychological evaluation as part of the claims process when you apply for Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

The fear of the unknown, however, may consume you as you prepare for this mental health exam. You may find it of some relief to know that there’s a standard protocol that practitioners follow when administering psychological evaluations.

Who performs a psychological evaluation?

Psychiatrists, psychologists and counselors can all generally perform the necessary assessments to determine whether an individual suffers from a mental health impairment. Psychological evaluations generally last between 20 and 90 minutes. How long the exam lasts depends on how complex a patient’s condition may be. The more assessments that a provider performs, the longer the evaluation is likely to take. 

The mental health provider may first ask you to complete a written questionnaire before asking you additional verbal questions about your responses. Your provider may also perform a battery of cognitive functioning or behavioral assessments. They may perform these to learn more about your personality or determine if you have a mental impairment. 

Why does SSA want a psychological evaluation?

Generally speaking, Social Security will ask for a psychological evaluation if you allege any kind of mental impairment as a factor in your disability claim, whether it’s your sole disabling condition or just part of what keeps you from working.

The agency may ask for an independent psychological evaluation when your medical records don’t have enough information about your condition or contain conflicting information. This is common, for example, if your primary care physician has been treating you with antidepressants but you haven’t seen a counselor or psychiatrist.

Where can you turn for guidance about the disability benefits application process?

Social Security can provide you with reliable information about how the SSD application process works and what to expect along the way. An attorney can help you understand the many pitfalls that applicants make that result in denials of their application for benefits so that you can minimize the chances of the same happening to you here in Ohio.

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