Monday, October 3, 2016

Social Security Completely Revamps the Mental Disability Listings

On September 26, 2016, the Social Security Administration finalized a total overhaul of the listings used to evaluate mental disorders and intellectual disabilities.  Most Social Security Disability Lawyers are surprised that these changes have been announced prior to the presidential election.   However, the new rules will not be in effect until January 17, 2017.  This is a major change and a very controversial move by Commissioner Colvin.  For a copy of the new listings click here.
"The Listings" are a long list of medical conditions with specific criteria that the SSA uses to determine whether a condition qualifies as disabling without having to determine whether a claimant can work or not.  If a claimant's conditions meets a listing, then the claimant is found to be disabled without the need to make any findings with respect to his or her residual functional capacity or vocational skills.
The new rules cover practically all mental disorders including: intellectual disabilities, schizophrenia, eating disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD, anxiety and autism.  Each one of these new listings deserves a separate blog post.  It will take Social Security Disability Lawyers many months to fully understand the impact of these new changes. 
The new listings reflect the terminology used in the DSM-5 (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) to classify mental disorders.  The DSM-5 is relatively new.  It replaced the DSM-4 on May of 2013.  On a first reading of the new rules, I noted some significant changes.  For example, there is a new listing for trauma which is separate from the listing for anxiety disorders.  On the intellectual disorder listing (12.05), the term "deficits in adaptive functioning", which was the subject of much litigation, has been thoroughly defined.  Another change is that listing 12.05 now requires evidence that the intellectual disability began prior to the attainment of age 22.