A new report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends broader standardized psychological testing for applicants that are submitting claims for mental health disabilities to the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) with the belief that incorporating additional psychological testing could improve both the accuracy and the consistency of disability determinations. In 2012 the SSA provided disability benefits to approximately 15 million adults and children. Proponents contend that mandatory psychological testing, validity based measures in particular, would result in significantly lower application approval rate, resulting in a substantial cost savings.
At the present, state agencies determine eligibility for disability based on medical records in addition to other evidence deemed relevant in an applicant’s case record. Standardized psychological tests that have been conducted are considered to be eligible material permitted for review within an applicant’s case file. Tests assessing validity can be used in conjunction with standardized psychological tests in order to assess whether the individual being evaluated is exerting a genuine effort and/or providing an accurate portrayal of their symptoms. While the SSA recognizes that utility and validity of psychological testing, it currently only requires testing to be conducted in cases pertaining to intellectual disability (ID), as an intelligence quotient (IQ) score is required in order to determine ID eligibility criteria.
Currently, SSA policy prevents requiring an applicant to submit psychological testing, but applicants (and their representatives) are permitted to submit psychological testing in support of their claims. It was recommended by the IOM that the SSA adopt a policy that incorporates mandatory standardized, non-cognitive psychological testing for all applicants that purport non-cognitive related impairments. It is their contention that testing should be required when the purported symptoms is based primarily on an applicant’s self-reported symptoms in the absence of objective medical evidence or longitudinal medical records that are considered sufficient to make a determination for disability. At the present, the IOM is gathering more information in order to more accurately offer an approximation of the cost savings that may be gained through mandatory incorporation of psychological testing in disability claims.
Faisal Roberts, M.A.
WKPIC Doctoral Intern
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Report Urges More Psychological Testing to Determine Disability Claims. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 13, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2015/04/13/recommendation-expand-psychological-testing-to-better-determine-disability-status/83466.html