South Carolina
Vocational Rehabilitation Department

Preparing and assisting eligible South Carolinians with disabilities to achieve and maintain competitive employment

SC Disability Determination Services

SC DDS Physicians

About a Career in Administrative Medicine

Many physicians are unaware of the opportunities available in our community to start a “second career” in medicine, namely that of medical consultant with the SC Vocational Rehabilitation Department’s Disability Determination Services. Termed “one of the state’s best kept secrets” by a veteran physician/ disability medical consultant , this career choice provides opportunities for physicians who no longer want to work as clinicians but who want to remain significant in the medical profession and to contribute to the well-being of the citizens of South Carolina. This employment opportunity enables physicians to keep their medical knowledge current while enjoying the challenge of learning the rules and policies of the Social Security Administration’s disability program, to use their unique talents and expertise in “seeing the whole person” while reviewing/assessing the paperless/computerized medical record, to network with local physicians in obtaining necessary records and opinions, and to ensure quality and efficient decisions regarding disability determinations.

A Typical Day

The typical workday of a medical consultant varies. Interspersed between case ratings, the medical consultant’s time can be spent conferring with his or her colleagues about an interesting or difficult case, making telephone calls to the claimant’s treating physicians for additional information or an opinion, attending educational meetings or teaching case examiners (non-physician staff who prepare case information for consultant review) about medical conditions, or providing frequent consultations to the claim’s case examiner. Answering questions from the case examiners in the early stage of case development occurs daily and can include, “Where do we go from here / what additional information is needed?”

Job Requirements

The job requirements for a SCVR DDS medical consultant include a current SC Medical License and clinical experience; board certification is preferred. The training necessary for a medical consultant involves a steep learning curve punctuated with ongoing mentoring from senior medical consultants and case supervisors. It is typically assumed that it will take a full year for new medical consultants to become versed in SSA policy and disability determination issues. Training begins with an initial orientation period that includes numerous classes on policy and the disability determination process, followed by didactic training sessions and case reviews throughout the year.

Computer skills are necessary; however, there is ample support from peers and on-site IT specialists to aid in learning to navigate SSA’s paperless system.

Job Satisfaction and Benefits

Job satisfaction prevails. Medical consultants continue to use their medical skills and judgment and to be a vibrant part of the South Carolina medical community; they learn about the distinctive career of administrative medicine; they provide a unique service to the citizens of South Carolina; and they provide invaluable training for office staffers. Absent are the typical stresses of office practice, namely, the extraordinarily long work hours without breaks, and the accompanying physical and emotional demands. Absent also are the frustrations of trying to see more patients in less time, of billing and insurance issues, of personnel issues, and of escalating overhead expenses. There is no on-call; the work ends when you log-off your computer. There is no need to carry independent Malpractice Insurance for this work.

Benefits of being a medical consultant are numerous. They include the opportunity to work full-time or part-time with some flexibility in the daily schedule. Physicians who work as full-time employees earn annual leave, holidays, retirement and insurance packages. Most of all, there is enormous benefit to working with a large, dedicated team of professionals who strive to do their very best for the citizens of SC each day.

Contacts

For more information about becoming a Medical Consultant for SCVR DDS, contact:

Sylvester Jackson (Columbia Regional Office Supervisor): 803-896-6702
Laura Cavese (Medical Services Supervisor): 803-896-4528

Blake Monson (Charleston Regional Office Supervisor): 843-953-0374
Wendy Varner (Medical Services Supervisor): 843-953-0334

Chris Porter (Greenville Regional Office Supervisor): 864-282-4001
Liz Costello (Medical Services Supervisor): 864-282-4328