Consultants-- licensed medical doctors of
specialties, osteopaths and psychologists with a PhD-- are pivotal in the decision
making process of your disability claim. Depending on your state, medical consultants (MCs) will either serve as
independent contractors with the DDS office or serve as staff with the DDS office. In the two states I worked
in, all medical consultants were housed in the DDS offices. Their role is to do a paper review of your claim
once the examiner determines that the necessary medical information has been received in order to render a
Though it would be ideal if medical consultants reviewed all of
the medical records in your file, in reality, they generally depend on the summary that the disability
examiners writes up about your medical condition in order to reach their decision.
So if the examiner is new or inexperienced and misses pertinent
information in his summary write-up, the medical consultant might not be aware of this information, and thus
may make an incorrect decision on your claim.
Nonetheless, MCs have access to all your medical records in your
file, and some will take the time to review it all if they do not trust the summary of the disability
examiner or if the summary appears incomplete.
Once a medical consultant reviews the summary of your medical file
which is written by the disability examiner, he or she will either concur with it, disagree with it, or
request that the examiner obtain more medical information to support a decision on the
If the medical consultant concurs with the summary of the
examiner, than the examiner processes the decision and forwards the claim back to the Field Office so SSA can
notify the claimant of the decision.
It should be noted that at this point, a certain number of claims
will be randomly selected after the disability examiner processes a decision, and an internal review of the
claim will be made to determine if it is in keeping with all SSA rules and regulations. These quality reviews
can delay a decision if there is anything that needs to be corrected in a claim. They can also result in a
claim decision being reversed or in the claim being returned to the examiner to collect additional or missing
information needed to support the claim.
Unit is made up of a supervisor and a number of disability
examiners and clerical staff. In some agencies, medical consultants are attached to a unit, and review all the
claims generated by the examiners in that unit. In other states, MCs are agency wide and reviews claims by their
specialty area. For example, an internist might receive most of the heart cases, while an oncologist would be
referred the cancer claims for review. Both arrangements are workable, but as a claimant I would prefer the
agency wide MC arrangement because a specialist knows more about a particular impairment than a generalist does
and might be better able to determine the severity of my particular impairments.
Supervisors also play a major role in claim processing because
they can generally be consulted by a disability examiner who is having trouble figuring out how to approach a
particular disability claim. Because of their experience in claims processing, they can direct the examiner
to the best approach to take in getting needed information for a claim expeditiously.
Supervisors can also be called when a claimant encounters an
unresponsive disability examiner. Claimants can always request to speak to a supervisor about their claims if
the examiner can not or will not cooperate with them.