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Social Security Disability and Lowered IQ

There is a concept involved in the social security disability process known as premorbid IQ. How does it come into play in the disability decision process?

It typically applies to organic brain syndrome (i.e. traumatic brain injury, closed head injuries) and can potentially result in a disability approval for a claimant whose current measured IQ is not listing level (for mental retardation) but can be shown to have dropped at least 15 points since before their accident or illness (this would be their premorbid IQ score).

The problem with premorbid IQ scores, however, is that claimants/patients who have suffered a drop in IQ due to illness or injury may not have prior (a.k.a. premorbid) IQ scores on record. That, being the case, how can one demonstrate that a 15 point drop has occurred?. In reality, you can't.

However, I will point out that low lifelong IQ (mental retardation or borderline intellectual functioning) and lowered IQ as a result of an injury or disease process can potentially result in a awarding of disability benefits.

In the first example (mental retardation and borderline intellectual functioning), the issue would likely be whether or not the claimant has the ability to engage in SRRT's. What are these? The acronym stands for simple, routine, repetitive tasks.

Basically, an individual who files for disability and is unable to engage in such tasks will be judged to be disabled.

Regarding the second example (lowered IQ as a result of an injury or disease process), the focus of the adjudicator, or decision maker, will be whether or not the claimant will retain the ability to perform the type of work they have done in the past.

If the judgement is made that the claimant cannot return to one of the relevant jobs they have performed in the last 15 years (the relevant period), then the next determination will be whether or not the claimant will be able to perform some form of other work. And this determination will be based on the claimant's age, education, work skills, and physical or mental limitations.

Impaired intellectual functioning, of course, could potentially serve as a major factor in this determination, especially for older individuals (older claimants are considered to have fewer vocational options in the national economy and, for this reason, they often find it easier to win disability benefits than younger individuals).

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Related pages:

When you file for disability and have both Mental and Physical Conditions
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition?
Disability and SSI Process for Mental Claims based on Mental Disorders
Social Security Disability and SSI Mental Claims and Criteria
Social Security Disability, SSI, Mental Disorders, and Functional Limitations
Are Disability Requirements Tougher For Mental Claims?
What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?
Social Security Disability, back pain, and sedentary, light, and medium work
Social Security Disability, SSI, and low IQ
Applying for disability with Schizophrenia
Can I get disability for Rheumatoid arthritis?
Social Security Disability, SSI, and autoimmune disorders
Can you get disability for ankylosing spondylitis?

Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

These pages provide answers to basic questions about pursuing disability benefits

Disability qualifications - Who will qualify is based on functional limitations
What do you Need to Prove to Qualify for Disability Benefits?
How to file for disability and the information needed by Social Security
What conditions do they Award Disability Benefits for?
How does back pay for Social Security disability work?
What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI? Part I
To get a Social Security Disability or SSI Award do you have to have a Permanent Disability?
Social Security Disability Status - when should I call to check
Do Lawyers Improve The Chances of Winning Social Security Disability or SSI?
What is qualifying for disability based on?
How to qualify for disability - The Process of Qualifying for Benefits
Receiving a Social Security Disability Award Letter
How long does it take to get disability?
Filing and applying for disability in Texas