Hopefully you’ve read about how to prepare and what you have to know before going in for your Independent Medical Examination. In this article, I share some independent medical examination tips: what you should know about the actual appointment; when it begins; how you should act; and what you need to avoid doing.
This article is part of our Ultimate Guide to Long-term Disability.
As I mentioned above, it is also the second in a 3-part series about Independent Medical Examinations. Make sure you’ve read Part 1!
The IME begins the moment you walk out your front door
Honestly, this might be the most important independent medical examination tip you ever read.
It is highly likely that you will be under surveillance when you attend this appointment. The insurer might have someone watch you from the moment you leave your house to the time that you arrive back.
They do this because you will tell the doctor how you’re doing and feeling on that day — and that will all be on file. The insurance company will compare what you said to the doctor with how you acted when they saw you. Did you make it to your car easily? Did you struggle walking up the stairs to the doctor’s office? They will be watching for things that don’t match up with what you tell the doctor. If you say you can barely walk, you’d better be sure you don’t have a skip in your step when you leave.
The insurance company might give the doctor previous surveillance that they have collected. This is ethically questionable at best, but it could happen. If the doctor asks questions about specific dates and times, thats what might be going on. Be honest and answer anything they ask. You always want to seem helpful and open. Try not to be defensive about what you’re being asked, even if you know that the insurance company was in the wrong by sharing previous surveillance with the doctor.
IME tips: When you arrive
The doctor usually won’t know whether you’re under surveillance or not. Keep in mind, however, that the doctor and their staff will be watching you and reporting on their observations as well. This is obviously separate from the insurance company, and not necessarily “surveillance” — but you have to keep it in mind. If you claim that you can only sit in a chair for 10 minutes but the staff observes you sitting for much longer while you fill out paperwork, that will be noted.
Speaking of which, you’ll have some forms to sign when you get there. You can ask your insurance company to show you the forms ahead of time if you’re worried about what you’re signing. The main one is a release that will allow your information from this appointment to be shared with the parties that need it. Obviously, this needs to be signed.
When you get into the exam room with the doctor, all you need to do is cooperate. Be pleasant with the doctor. Answer questions and make your very best effort during any tests that they need to perform. Even if you know that the effort exerted during this exam will have you in bed for a week, that’s not what the doctor will see. This is your time to prove yourself to the doctor.
IME tips: Dos and don’ts
Don’t fight with the doctor. Try not to act defensive when they ask you questions. Don’t ask “Why do you need to know that?”or “Why is that relevant?” This isn’t the time to play lawyer and object to questions.
Don’t go in with the mindset that you’re going to sabotage the assessment and leave at the first sign of trouble. If you do, you will either have to go back or you will be deemed uncooperative. The insurance company could very well interpret this to mean that you are refusing to attend and suspend or terminate your benefits.
Don’t secretly record the conversation — especially if you’re involved in a lawsuit. We’ll have some tips on how you can take notes after the appointment in the next article!
Do go in with the intention of being cooperative and helpful. Remember that this doctor can really help you. If you give them a bad impression by acting guarded, jaded, or cynical, you won’t be doing yourself any justice. Those are traits of somebody who has something to hide. You want to be respectful and show them
Do push yourself to complete the examination. Show them that you are really trying. Once, a physiotherapist walked our client to her car and made notes of it, saying that he didn’t think it would be safe for her to drive home. If she had stopped the assessment partway through because it was too hard, this never would have happened. The physiotherapist wouldn’t have gotten such a clear idea of how taxing this was for her. The fact that she pushed through was critical for us to win that case.
Do make yourself the best patient the doctor sees that day. If the doctor sees 10 people that day, and 9 of them fall under the “Don’ts” category, you should really be striving to be the good one. You will stand out against the others who come in with a bad attitude. This can be the difference in the doctor speaking positively about you in their report.
Do be respectful and thank them for their time. Not all of these doctors are “hired guns” aiming to get you denied. Let them know that you understand how important this examination is for your case
Do have a backup plan to get home safely if you push yourself too far.
If you take anything from these independent medical examination tips, let it be this:
The IME doesn’t just begin when you get to the doctor’s office. You should be aware that the insurance company might be watching you from the moment you leave your house. This is an opportunity for them to catch you contradicting yourself —-saying that you feel one way but acting another.
Hopefully now you are wise to this trick, ready to attend your independent medical examination, and prepared to prove just how honest and credible you are.