August 2017

Evaluating Intellectual Disorders
– a Revised Analysis

The medical charts and school records are key to show onset before age 22


When revised earlier this year, significant changes were made to the mental impairment listings for applications based upon intellectual disabilities. Section 12.05 which was called “Mental Retardation” in the past, then changed to “Intellectual Disability,” is now changed to “Intellectual Disorder” with a much revised analysis.

In the past, IQ scores of 59 or below would meet the medical criteria of the Listings, as would an IQ score of 60 – 69 with another severe impairment. That analysis no longer applies.

SSA did respond positively to many public comments to its first revision to this Listing. There is tracking of the DSM-5 criteria in consideration of these claims. The final version also interacts with Listing 12.11 for neuro-developmental disorders.

Section 12.05A focuses on claimants who are unable to undergo standardized testing. The Listing requires proof of:

The battle will often be proof of the deficits in “adaptive functioning.” SSA will consider proof from a variety of sources in determining “dependence upon others” in using conceptual, social and practical skills in dealing with common life demands.

Section 12.05B provides analysis when standardized test results are available. It requires:

  1. Significantly subaverage intellectual functioning shown by either:
  2. Significant deficits in adaptive functioning manifested by an extreme limitation of one, or marked limitation in two areas of mental functioning:
  3. Evidence that this began before age 22.

The IQ test result will establish intellectual functioning unless the tester indicates otherwise, or the result is contradicted by other testing, or, more ominously, by SSA’s focus on the Claimant’s daily functioning. This gives aggressive decision makers a serious loophole to negate supportive test results.

This represents a major change in the presentation of SSDI and SSI applications based upon Intellectual Disorders. Families, social workers, case managers, psychiatrists and psychologists must continue to document the deficits of adaptive functioning so that there will be evidence at the time of adjudication by SSA.

If you have more questions concerning these issues, or want us to come present a free in-service on the Social Security Disability process and analysis, give us a call to make the arrangements. As always, we appreciate your referrals as the greatest compliment we can receive.

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