Study explores need for more psych tests in disability determinations
The Institute of Medicine, an independent, nonprofit organization started back in 1970 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, recently published the results of a study sponsored by the Social Security Administration designed to assess the value of increased psychological testing in disability determinations.
While the SSA recognizes that psychological testing can be valuable, it does not mandate it in those cases involving applicants who suffer from mental disorders outside of intellectual disability. Furthermore, while applicants can submit validity tests -- used in conjunction with cognitive and non-cognitive psychological tests to help measure the accuracy of an individual's test scores -- the agency cannot currently order them as a supplement to a case record.
As part of its report, the IOM research committee made the following recommendations:
- All applicants claiming to suffer from non-cognitive fundamental impairments related to mental disorders outside of intellectual disability should be required to submit to uniform, non-cognitive psychological testing.
- All applicants claiming to suffer from mental disorders with certain physical symptoms that are inconsistent with the medical record should be required to submit to uniform, non-cognitive psychological testing.
- All applicants claiming to suffer from cognitive impairments otherwise unsupported by medical evidence should be required to submit to uniform, cognitive psychological testing.
- Any non-cognitive or cognitive psychological testing undertaken by the agency should be accompanied by an assessment of validity (i.e., validity tests).
While proponents of increased psychological testing in disability determinations claim that it would result in significant cost savings, the IOM research committee indicated that the data needed to make any assessment concerning cost savings and other financial benefits is currently lacking, such that any conclusions it reached would potentially be incorrect. It did, however, indicate that its study provided the foundation for future research on this complex issue.
It will be fascinating to see how the SSA ultimately reacts to this study, such that we eventually see increased psychological testing in disability determinations. In the meantime, please consider consulting with an experienced legal professional about your options for securing disability benefits if you are suffering from any type of debilitating mental condition.