Social Security Revises Criteria for Mental Disorders

Posted October 21, 2016 by Premier Disability Services, LLC® On September 26, 2016, the Social Security Administration published a final rule, “Revised Medical Criteria for Evaluating Mental Disorders.” This regulation reflects the most comprehensive revision in over 30 years to the criteria used to evaluate disability claims involving mental disorders.

With the publication of this final rule, standards for evaluating claims involving mental disorders will reflect up-to-date standards and practices used in the mental health community. The rule becomes effective on January 17, 2017. The most significant changes from the Administration’s current rules include:

–Updating the titles of most of the listings;

–Keeping the structure of the “paragraph A” criteria from prior rules in all of the listings (except for 12.05 and 112.05), and updating the paragraph A criteria;

–Renaming the titles of paragraph B1 (understand, remember, or apply information) and B3 (concentrate, persist, or maintain pace) to be linked by “or” rather than “and”;

–Removing all references to using standardized test scores for rating degrees of functional limitations for adults (except for listing 12.05);

–Indicating that the greatest degree of limitation in any part of a paragraph B1, B3, or B4 area of mental functioning will be the degree of limitation for that whole area of functioning;

–Retaining the 5-point rating scale that was used in prior rules for rating degrees of functional limitations in adults;

–Reorganizing the listing criteria in listings 12.05 and 112.05, intellectual disorder, to reflect the three diagnostic criteria for intellectual disability; and

–Creating new listings, 12.15 and 112.15, trauma- and stressor-related disorders, to reflect the updates in medical understanding reflected in the DSM-5.

The rule reflects information from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, which is the mental health profession’s standard for classifying mental disorders. Criteria for evaluating intellectual disability generated significant public interest. Besides reflecting comments from members of the public, the rule reflects the expertise of disability policy experts, adjudicators, psychiatric professionals, and vocational experts, who provided input at every phase of the rulemaking process.

If you or someone you know is unable to work due to mental illness, please contact us for a free evaluation of your claim.


Full version of Final Rule:

By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®