Become a Consultant
VR's Disability Determination Services is recruiting experienced licensed physicians and psychologists to join our staff
- Provide consultation to DDS staff on medical/psychological issues
- Evaluate evidence in claims for disability from the Social Security Administration (SSA)
- Assist in decision-making for Social Security Disability claims
- Contact community treatment and consultative examination providers for additional evidence needed for disability evaluation
- Develop training about medical/psychological issues, conditions and related issues for staff and consultative examination partners
- Provide an important service to the citizens of South Carolina
- Steady, reliable income
- The ability to enhance medical or psychology knowledge and skills without the demands of direct patient care or a consumer/treatment workload
- Less stressful work environment compared to many clinical or mental health settings
- The ability to make a difference!
- State benefits for full-time employees
- Flexible hours for part-time consultants
- Columbia, SC
- Charleston, SC
- Greenville, SC
Many physicians are unaware of the opportunities available in our community to start a second career in medicine, namely that of medical consultant with DDS. 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 SSA 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.
The job requirements for a 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.
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.
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.
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?"
For psychologists looking for a second career after work in a more traditional clinical setting or for psychologists who want to engage in non-clinical work while maintaining a part-time private practice, work as a psychological consultant for DDS presents a unique opportunity. This employment enables psychologists to keep their clinical knowledge current while enjoying the challenge of learning the rules and policies of the SSA's disability program. The DDS utilizes state-of-the art technology to obtain electronic medical records that the psychologist reviews in making decisions regarding disability determinations. In making these decisions, psychologists are afforded the opportunity to talk with treatment providers in the community and to consult with other psychologists at the disability determination office.
The job requirements for a SCVRD DDS psychological consultant include a doctoral degree in psychology from a program in clinical psychology from an educational institution accredited by an organization recognized by the Council on Post-Secondary Accreditation or listing in the National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology, two years of supervised clinical experience as a psychologist in health service, at least one year of which is post master's degree, and current licensure or certification as a psychologist at the independent practice level from the State of SC's Board of Examiners in Psychology. Demonstrated clinical experience and a thorough knowledge of psychological evaluation are preferred. It is typically assumed that it will take a full year for new psychological consultants to become versed in SSA policy and disability determination issues. During this year, an initial orientation period that includes numerous classes on policy and the disability determination process is followed by close work and mentoring from experienced psychologists in the office. 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.
Benefits are numerous and include the possibility of part-time or full-time work in one of three offices around the state (Greenville, Columbia, Charleston). Once trained, flexible hours are often possible. Full-time psychologists are afforded all the typical benefits of state employment, including insurance and retirement packages, paid holiday and sick leave, and access to the state's deferred compensation program. Most of all, there is enormous benefit in working with and developing relationships with a dedicated team of professionals who all strive to do their best for disability claimants.
Owing to a number of factors, most psychological consultants come to the Disability Determination Service and stay! Most consultants find this job affords them the opportunity to stay current in their field and to have access to valuable consultation and interaction with colleagues, office physicians as well as other psychologists. Unique to this setting, physicians and psychologists often work in a very collaborative, non-hierarchical manner in order to make decisions about complex disorders that involve both psychological and physical components. Absent are some of the stress associated with clinical work. For example, there is no expectation of work during weekends, evenings, or state holidays. There is no on-call expectation; when you log off for the day, your work is done until you return! There is no need to carry independent malpractice insurance as liability for decisions made is carried by the agency, not the individual psychologist. Productivity requirements are reasonable and ample time is provided psychologists to become trained.
A Typical Day
A day in the life of a disability determination psychologist can vary. While the primary focus is on making case decisions about the severity of disability, in reaching these decisions a psychological consultant may consult with colleagues in the community by telephone and may consult with disability examiners, highly trained individuals who obtain and analyze medical records and interview disability claimants. Psychological consultants also consult with each other on difficult cases, either informally or more formally during case conferences. Disability psychologists are often involved in training efforts in the office and often interface with contract psychologists who perform disability examinations in the community. Disability psychologists have no direct contact with the disability claimants. As disability examiners are not required to have formal education in psychology, the psychological consultant is often involved in helping examiners understand complex diagnostic issues.
For more information contact:
- Vickie Stewart (Columbia Regional Office Supervisor): 803-896-6702
- Cassandra Highsmith (Columbia Regional Medical Services Supervisor): 803-896-4528
- Blake Monson (Charleston Regional Office Supervisor): 843-953-0374
- Christina Koot (Charleston Regional Medical Services Supervisor): 843-953-0334
- Chris Porter (Greenville Regional Office Supervisor): 864-282-4001
- Liz Costello (Greenville Regional Medical Services Supervisor): 864-282-4328
- Lea McQueen (Office of State Claims Supervisor): 803-896-7137