Types of Social Security Disability Mental Exams

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Individuals who file for disability benefits for a mental condition are often required to attend a Social Security consultative exam (CE). The consulting doctor will perform one of the following mental exams during a CE.

Psychiatric exam. These exams are performed by a psychiatrist (MD) vs. a psychologist. Psychiatric exams are used to evaluate those with psychosis or affective or mood disorders (such as anxiety or bipolar depression).

Psychological exam. Psychological exams are used to evaluate symptoms that point to reduced cognitive function (low IQ) and for claimants with little education or a history of enrollment in special needs courses in public school.

Mental status exam (MSE). An MSE is a common exam used to evaluate one's memory, language skills, and awareness regarding their surroundings. During an MSE, you may be asked to recall items on a list after reading it, count by fives, name the current President, tell the examiner about your childhood, interpret what is going on in a picture, and so on.

Memory scale exam. This exam is used specifically for those who report short-term memory loss. Examples of people who may be asked to participate in this exam are stroke victims, people with traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer's, and so on, although just about anyone could be sent for a memory scale if they listed severe short-term memory loss on their disability application.

Learn more about mental consultative exams.

Updated by: , J.D.

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