Palmetto GBA: Performing a cognitive assessment

Published: June 16, 2021

Do you or a loved one have any of the following symptoms?

It’s easy to forget where you put your car keys once in a while. But if you or a loved one have any of the following problems, please read further:

  • Trouble remembering
  • Difficulty learning new things
  • Feeling overwhelmed making decisions
  • Getting confused easily or frequently
  • Becoming very impulsive or showing poor judgment

You might think your memory has “slipped,” but it might be more than that. Medicare offers a service to test your cognitive functioning. It’s called a cognitive assessment, and it can be performed when you see your provider for a visit. Many times, it is performed when you do your yearly wellness visit, but it can be performed at any time you have a concern.

It’s really helpful if you bring someone with you to that visit, such as a friend, spouse or caregiver, so that they can provide answers to questions you might not know the answers to. During the visit, your doctor will do the following:

  1. Perform a cognitive exam.
  2. Review your medical history and your medication. Sometimes medications can have side effects that may make you appear to have a cognitive impairment.
  3. Develop a plan of care, if one is needed.
  4. Make a referral to a specialist, if one is needed.
  5. Talk to you about community resources (these can include adult daycare, rehabilitation services, and more).

When this service is performed, the Part B deductible and coinsurance apply.

Cognitive impairment doesn’t always present in the ways noted above. It can also show up as depression, anxiety, apathy or irritation/aggression. If you see these in yourself or others, please make an appointment with your doctor. Having mild cognitive impairment can increase your risk of developing dementia caused by Alzheimer’s. Per the Mayo Clinic, “some people with mild cognitive impairment never get worse, and a few eventually get better.” Be the one who gets better. Call your doctor today.

If you need help locating a doctor, you can call our Palmetto GBA’s Beneficiary Contact Center at 800-833-4455, Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET. You are invited to use Palmetto’s free internet portal, MyRRMed, to access claim status, historical Medicare Summary Notices, and review any individuals you have authorized to have access to your private medical information. You can visit MyRRMed at www.PalmettoGBA.com/MyRRMed.

We also encourage you to visit the Mayo Clinic website, which discusses mild cognitive impairment (MCI) here: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mild-cognitive-impairment/symptoms-causes/syc-20354578.

You can also access the Alzheimer’s Association website, which discusses cognitive assessment services, by visiting here: https://www.alz.org/professionals/health-systems-clinicians/cognitive-assessment.


Palmetto GBA is the Railroad Specialty Medicare Administrative Contractor (RRB SMAC) and processes Part B claims for Railroad Retirement beneficiaries nationwide. Palmetto GBA is contracted by the independent federal agency Railroad Retirement Board (RRB), which administers comprehensive retirement-survivor and unemployment-sickness benefit programs for railroad workers and their families under the Railroad Retirement and Railroad Unemployment Insurance Acts.