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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).
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For the sake of clarity, SSDRC.com is not the Social Security Administration, nor is it associated or affiliated with SSA. This site is a personal, private website that is published, edited, and maintained by former caseworker and former disability claims examiner, Tim Moore, who was interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled "The Disability Mess" and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system.
The goal of the site is to provide information about how Social Security Disability and SSI work, the idea being that qualified information may help claimants pursue their claims and appeals, potentially avoiding time-consuming mistakes. If you find the information on this site helpful and believe it would be helpful to others, feel free to share links to its homepage or other pages on website resource pages, blogs, or social media. Copying of this material, however, is prohibited.
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