Understanding How the Independent Medical Examination Works
If you are seeking disability, you may have to go through an independent medical examination (IME). It can be intimidating to attend a medical exam with a doctor you don’t know. However, your disability attorney can help you prepare for any questions the IME doctor may ask. Contact CJ Henry Law Firm, PLLC for more information about your specific situation.
What Is an Independent Medical Examination?
If you’ve filed a long term disability claim and the insurance company wants additional medical information, they may ask you to attend an independent medical examination. Most disability insurance policies allow the insurance company to send you to at least one IME during the determination process. If they ask you to attend an independent medical examination, it’s important that you do see the doctor. Otherwise, your claim may be denied, and your policy may even be voided.
An IME is an examination that takes place by a doctor chosen by the insurance company. The examiner is supposed to be a neutral third party; however, since they are hired and paid for by the insurance company, they are most often on their side. They may make a report that is favorable to the insurance company.
During an IME, the doctor will ask you questions about your conditions and review your medical information. The doctor will have access to all your historical medical information. The doctor will also likely perform a physical exam during the IME. You should be honest with the independent medical examination doctor and fully describe your conditions. You may even take a journal that details your mental and physical symptoms.
Doctors Who Perform Independent Medical Examinations Are Often Biased
The insurance company will be paying the doctor who is performing the IME. The insurance company wants the doctor to return a report saying you’re not injured or ill, but that you can work. If the doctor does not do so, then they are risking their job as an ongoing IME doctor. Thus, it is unlikely that the medical report from your independent medical examination will be favorable.
This does not mean the IME doctor will lie. However, they may ignore their medical training and focus only on what they want to see. For example, if you are able to walk, they may indicate that you are not physically incapacitated. They may ignore the fact that you can only walk for short periods of time. It’s important to fully describe your symptoms and condition so the IME doctor has an opportunity to fully report your case.
What If You Miss the IME?
If you miss your independent medical examination, you should immediately contact the insurance company to reschedule. It is likely that your policy indicates that the insurance company has a right to obtain an IME. If so, then you are obligated to attend the scheduled doctor’s appointment. This would be a contractual obligation and you could lose your disability insurance if you do not attend.
However, a disability attorney can review your policy and determine if you must attend the IME. If your policy does not give your insurance company the right to an IME, then you may be able to avoid it.
How to Prepare for an Independent Medical Examination
Before attending the independent medical examination, you should talk to your disability attorney. You can prepare yourself by reviewing your medical records and understanding what other doctors have said about your conditions. You may also write down your thoughts and feelings in a journal to prepare what you will say to the IME doctor.
Your attorney can ask you questions that the IME doctor will likely ask you. Those questions will focus on your medical treatment, symptoms, and ability to function in activities of daily living. By fully preparing for your independent medical examination, you should be able to convey all necessary information during the exam.
Even if you feel prepared for your independent medical examination, the doctor may ask you questions you cannot have anticipated. They may focus on things that are not related to your conditions. You may even think their questions are offensive or too personal. However, it’s important to answer all of their questions honestly and fully describe your mental and physical limitations.
Contact a Long Term Disability Attorney About Independent Medical Examinations
If your disability insurance company has requested that you attend an independent medical examination, you need a disability attorney on your side. The IME doctor will be working for the insurance company and may create a biased report. However, a skilled disability attorney can see through the inaccuracies on your IME report and help you obtain disability benefits. Call CJ Henry Law Firm, PLLC today for help with your independent medical examination.