Psychological consultative evaluations are used by Social Security to identify any mental health conditions that could impact your performance at a simple, entry-level job.
If you allege depression, anxiety or stress in the forms you submit with your application or appeal, or if your medical record suggests that you may be experiencing depression, anxiety or stress, SSA will send you out, at their cost, for an evaluation with a psychologist on their local referral panel.
My experience has been that psychologists on these referral panels are generally fair and reasonable and that the reports from these visits will rarely damage your claim (unless the psychologist determines that you are faking or malingering).
In the video above, I discuss a consultative evaluation report from a recent case. You will learn that the consultative psychologists report extensively on your appearance, manner of speaking and overall presentation. In other words, the psychologist is observing how you answer questions just as much as what you are saying. Often the consulting psychologist will observe you in the parking lot when you arrive as well as your activity in the waiting room.
Understand that a one time consultative evaluation from a Social Security panel psychologist is not a substitute for on-going treatment with a psychologist or psychiatrist who treats you over months or years. However, if you cannot afford treatment but you have been advised by your primary care doctor (or by friends and family) that you may have mental health issues, you should definitely allege depression, anxiety or any other relevant condition in your application or appeal forms.