Monday, March 8, 2010

IMA Disability Services

Virtually every applicant for Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits on Long Island, and also in many areas around New York City, gets a letter stating that he or she “must” be examined by a “specialist” from IMA Disability Services (“IMA”). The letter always encloses a release so that the claimant can receive a copy of the IMA report. These letters are misleading in several respects.

First and foremost, the use of the word “must” is misleading because most claimants do not need to be seen by a doctor from IMA. The rules require the SSA to specify exactly what information is supposedly needed, and why the SSA claims the information is needed, which is rarely done. Moreover, the rules provide that the SSA cannot insist that a claimant attend a consultative examination (“CE”), such as the IMA exam, without first seeking the particular information from the treating physicians, or asking them to clarify any alleged inconsistency. Once again, that is virtually never done.

The word “must” is also misleading because many times, even after insisting that a claimant must attend an IMA exam, and after threatening to deny a claim if the applicant refuses to attend, SSD benefits are approved anyway. I represent a DHL delivery person whose SSD application was approved today two months after he was told that he must attend an exam by IMA.

The releases provided with the IMA demands are a joke. To date, despite countless submissions of the releases, IMA has never released one of its reports. IMA will say that it lacks the authority to release its report, which IMA will claim must be requested from the State agency. However, since the State agency does not release the IMA report before making its decision, an applicant is precluded from submitting a rebuttal.

There are countless other reasons under the rules that make CEs inappropriate. Not surprisingly, since IMA makes enormous amounts of money from performing thousands of CEs, the overwhelming vast majority of the IMA reports contradict the claimant’s disability allegations. Therefore, the demands for IMA exams should be vigorously objected to in writing.

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