The Social Security Administration scheduled me for a consultative exam. What is it, and do I have to go?

If you have filed a claim for disability benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) may schedule you for a consultative exam. As a disability attorney in Nebraska and Iowa, I get many calls from my clients asking about the consultative exam. The consultative examination is a physical or mental exam performed by a medical source at the SSA's request and expense. As the SSA reviews your claim, they want as much information as possible about your medical conditions in order to make a decision. The medical evidence may be insufficient to determine if you are disabled. In some cases, claimant's physicians do not furnish the required medical records. The SSA will send you a letter with information such as date, time and location of the exam. It is very important that the SSA has your correct mailing address so that you get this information as soon as possible.

The exam itself will likely be performed by a medical professional you have never seen before. You can expect the exam to take between 20 and 60 minutes. I have heard people complain that their consultative examinations were very short, or the doctor did not address all of their impairments, or the doctor was rude and did not seem to take them seriously. The consultative doctors are supposed to evaluate your physical or mental abilities; they are not entering into a treatment relationship with you. While the doctors are paid by the SSA for their time, they are supposed to give an unbiased opinion. Therefore, when you go to your appointment, make sure you bring up all of your impairments to the doctor. Answer all of the doctor's questions truthfully and completely. Remember, too, that the doctor is not just listening to your answers to those questions; he or she is also observing your behavior, speech, and movement and will include those observations in the final report to the SSA.

Many of my clients call me because they are concerned about going to the consultative examination. They say it is difficult to get transportation, or they are just plain worried about what will happen at the exam. Some clients tell me that in their mental state, they don't know if they can handle that sort of stress. In my experience, it is very important that claimants comply with any and all SSA requests. You should make every effort to get to your exam. Failure to show up for your appointment can have a very negative effect on your claim. Your claim could be denied based on incomplete medical evidence. After all this time waiting on a decision, you don't want it denied because you didn't make it to the exam. The whole process can be frustrating and intimidating. Remember, though, that as important as it is to attend the consultative examinations, they are still only one part of all of the evidence the SSA must consider in deciding your claim. Even if you think your consultative examination went badly, it cannot all by itself ruin your chances of being found disabled. The SSA will also consider your treating doctors' opinions, the results of objective medical tests, and the effects of your impairments on your daily functioning.

As a disability lawyer in Nebraska, my goal is to provide the best advice and representation possible as you navigate the Social Security disability application process. Contact my office if you have questions about the consultative examination or any other aspect of your Social Security disability appeal.

Please call me, Patrick B. Cavanaugh at 1-800-342-3352 with for a free evaluation of your claim.


Posted on November 20, 2019. Tags: social security disability, social security attorney, omaha, exam, consulatative, cavanaugh law firm, skin disorder, social security benefits, social security claim, omaha attorney

Can I receive Social Security Disability Benefits for a Skin Disorder?

As a disability lawyer, I get many calls from my Nebraska neighbors asking if their impairment will qualify them for Social Security Disability benefits. If you have a skin disorder and you are unable to work, you may qualify for benefits. Skin disorders that result from hereditary, congenital, or acquired pathological processes are identified in Section 8.00 of the SSA listing of impairments. 

The following Skin Disorders are included in this category and may meet the SSA disability guidelines:

Do not be discouraged if your condition does not meet the SSA listing. If you continue the claims process, your claim will still be evaluated by the SSA. Your limitations and symptoms may affect your ability to work without specifically meeting the listing. The SSA wants to determine if you can perform your past relevant job(s), or if there are other jobs you have the ability to perform. Many of my Nebraska clients with a skin disorder complain that they are unable to work because they have lesions that are painful and require extensive treatment. Furthermore, your condition may cause anxiety and make it difficult for you to interact with others. Your skin disorder can easily affect your activities of daily living and make it difficult to maintain a job.

Skin disorders can be a tricky issue for Social Security Disability if you have any questions about the skin disorders or any other questions about the Social Security Disability processes please call Attorney Patrick B. Cavanaugh at 1-800-342-3352 for a free consultation.

The Social Security Administration will need medical documentation from "acceptable medical sources" to evaluate the presence and severity of your disorder. Information commonly needed for a skin disorder disability claim is; the onset date, duration and prognosis, frequency of flare-ups, location, size and appearance. To confirm a diagnosis the SSA may need laboratory findings such as biopsy and blood tests results. Your symptoms (including pain) will be assessed to determine how they impact your daily life and your ability to work. The effects of any treatment you receive to include medication, therapy and surgery will be assessed. This information is useful in determining the severity of your impairment. Your skin disorder may respond well to treatment, however the side effects can result in limitations. Any adverse effects of the treatment will be assessed.


Posted on September 28, 2019. Tags: social security disability, social security attorney, omaha, cavanaugh law firm, skin disorder, social security benefits, social security claim, omaha attorney

What documentation do I need for my cirrhosis of the liver disability claim?

As a disability lawyer in Nebraska, I speak to clients daily about the documentation they need to prove their Social Security disability claims. Once you have applied for benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will, with your permission, request medical records from the physicians and other medical providers who have treated or evaluated you for your impairments. As you proceed through the appeals process, the SSA will request updated information from your providers, and if you reach a hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will make sure that all of your medical records have been added to your Social Security file. For some impairments, including cirrhosis of the liver, it is very important that your medical records include complete documentation of your symptoms and objective evidence of your condition.

Cirrhosis of the liver is evaluated by the SSA as a digestive system impairment. If you have cirrhosis of the liver, the SSA's Listing of Impairments Section 5.05 for chronic liver disease requires documentation of at least one of the following:

  • Hemorrhaging due to esophageal, gastric, or ectopic varices or portal hypertensive gastropathy, resulting in hemodynamic instability and requiring hospitalization for transfusion. Acceptable documentation includes:
  • Endoscopy
  • X-rays
  • Ascites or hydrothorax, in spite of continuing treatment, on at least two evaluations at least sixty days apart. Acceptable documentation includes:
  • Laboratory tests showing serum albumin of 3.0 g/dL or less
  • Coagulation studies showing increased International Normalized Ratio (INR)
  • Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis. Acceptable documentation includes:
  • Laboratory tests showing an absolute neutrophil count of at least 250 cells/mm3.
  • Hepatorenal syndrome. Acceptable documentation includes:
  • Documentation of low arterial oxygenation
  • Echocardiography (ECG) or lung perfusion scan showing intrapulmonary arteriovenous shunting
  • Hepatic encephalopathy. Acceptable documentation includes:
  • Documentation of abnormal mental state or cognitive dysfunction
  • Documentation of surgical portosystemic shunt placement
  • Documentation of neurological abnormalities such as asterixis
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG)
  • Serum albumin laboratory tests
  • Coagulation studies showing increased INR
  • End stage liver disease. Acceptable documentation includes:
  • Liver function testing showing excess serum total bilirubin, serum creatinine, and INR
  • Other tests used to diagnose cirrhosis and evaluate its severity include:
  • Magnetic resonance elastography
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Ultrasound
  • Biopsy

In addition to reviewing your medical records for documentation of liver disease, the SSA will also consider the side effects of your medication and treatment, whether you are complying with your doctor's instructions, and whether your medical treatment is helping. Further, the SSA must consider how pain, fatigue, weakness, and other symptoms affect your ability to perform work activities.

If you have cirrhosis of the liver due to alcohol abuse, the most important thing you can do is to stop consuming alcohol. Stopping drinking will not only be good for your health, but it will also help you to show that you are following your doctor's orders to discontinue all use of alcohol. If you are presently using alcohol or failing to otherwise follow your treatment instructions, Social Security may conclude that your symptoms would not prevent you from being able to work if you were compliant with treatment. You will be able to present your best case to the SSA if you are receiving regular treatment from specialists, are taking your medications as prescribed, and are following your doctor's instructions regarding your diet and behaviors.

I have found that people living with cirrhosis of the liver have many physical and mental symptoms that affect their ability to work. Toxins in the blood can cause mental confusion and difficulty concentrating. Other symptoms such as high blood pressure, swelling in the legs and abdomen, loss of appetite, feeling tired or weak, and difficulty fighting infections can affect your ability to work a full time job day in and day out. What do you do if you are incapable of working due to cirrhosis of the liver, and you expect to be unable to work for more than twelve months? The first thing to do is to apply for benefits. After you apply, it is important to comply with all of the SSA's requests to help them get a complete picture of your impairment. Many initial applications are denied, though, and the next step is to start the appeals process right away.

If you have any questions about the cirrhosis or any disabling condition or any other questions about the Social Security Disability processes please call Attorney Patrick B. Cavanaugh at 1-800-342-3352 for a free consultation.

Posted on September 18, 2019. Tags: liver, cirrhosis, liver cirrhosis, social security disability, social security benefits, social security attorney, liver illness, social security claim, social security omaha, patrick cavanaugh, attorney

Social Security Disability Solvent for years to come

Social Security Continues to demonstrate that it is the most stable, cost effective insurance benefit in the history of the world.  The Administration has just released Briefing paper 2019-01 to analyze recent demographic trends in the Social Security Disability program, see link.

There are many inputs that affect Social Security but because of his foundation as a program for all the workers in the United States and its efficent managment it continues to maintain solvencey and provide the benefts promised dispite unforseen changes in the various inputs.  Social Security has provided the United States a strong foundation for every other aspect of out nations finacial well being, and must be understood but those in power and safeguarded. 

Posted on August 13, 2019. Tags: Social Security Disability

Debunking Social Security Disability Myths

There has been so much disinformation about the most successful social program in our nations history, Social Security. Social Security Disability is a co-equal branch of that program, debunking the myths of fraud. Social security disability is important to maintaining this most helpful program. Following is a link to an article from the New York Times, Busting the Myths About Disability Fraud, that helps explain this.

At The Cavanaugh Law Firm we help those who have been denied social security disability.

Call 402-341-2020 with questions or visit us at


Posted on April 11, 2019. Tags: social security disability, social security attorney, omaha, cavanaugh law firm, skin disorder, social security benefits, social security claim, omaha attorney