What Should I Expect at a Social Security Mental Evaluation?
When you claim a mental impairment is preventing you from engaging in substantial gainful activity, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will likely schedule a mental examination for you to attend. This mental examination is performed by a doctor (paid by SSA) who is determining what types of activities you can still do and what you cannot do.
There are two different types of mental examinations: a psychological examination and a psychiatric examination. The psychological examination is meant to test for skills such as memory, mental status, and IQ. A psychiatric examination is meant to test for other mental health conditions. Typically, if you have a history of a mental impairment and have received treatment for it, SSA may send you to a psychiatric examination to have a better understanding of what you are capable of doing today.
During a mental examination, the examiner is looking at the following things, just to name a few:
- Your mannerisms and approach to the examiner
- How you dress and how well you are groomed
- Whether you make eye contact
- Whether you can concentrate and focus
- What your thought process is like
- Whether you have any perceptual abnormalities
- Whether you have, or have had, any suicidal or homicidal ideations
- An estimate of your intelligence level
The best advice is to be yourself during these exams. Do not spend hours and hours preparing for it; do not change the way you dress or shave or do your hair for this exam. You need to take this time to let the examiner know what it is like to be you for a day.