Maybe your insurer doesn’t think you’ve been compliant enough with treatment – or maybe they have doubts about the severity of your condition. Whatever the case, they’ve scheduled you for an independent medical examination (IME) with a doctor you’ve never met.
Since a lot could be riding on how well your encounter with this physician goes (and there are always some questions about how truly “independent” many of the doctors who perform these exams actually are), it pays to be prepared. Here are some tips:
1. Accept that you have to go.
There’s no way around it. You have to attend the IME if you want your benefits. Put your energy into putting together a concise, clear record that you can use during the exam. You want to be able to state your condition, how it limits you, list of what tests you have undergone and what treatments you’ve tried as accurately as possible.
2. Understand the purpose of the IME.
This doctor isn’t there to treat you. They’re simply gathering additional medical information and providing a report for the insurance company. Keep in mind that they are not your advocate, so they may actually be looking for a way to undermine your disability claim.
3. Be honest and transparent.
Honesty is always the best policy – and it will resonate even with a physician who is being paid by the insurance company. Give detailed information about your symptoms and limitations. Do not exaggerate – but do not downplay your symptoms, either. The more forthright you are, the more you will be perceived as credible.
4. Make contemporary notes.
As soon as possible after the IME, you should create a summary of it. A few points you may want to note include, but are not limited to, How long did you spend with the physician? How long was the interview and how long was the exam? What did the physician ask you about during the interview? What did the physician ask you to do during the exam? Is there anything in particular that stands out that you would not expect on a normal examination? Be sure to write the date that you are creating your document, so that if the report comes out with information that is inaccurate, you can provide your written documentation of the exam that was written before time lapsed or you saw the IME physician’s report.
Finally, experienced legal guidance is always a good thing to have when you’re in this situation. That can make it easier to understand your rights – and how to protect your interests.