Mental testing for a disability claim in Illinois
What kind of mental testing does social security send claimants to? There is a range of testing for mental consultative exams, including a full psychiatric exam and a psychological exam which is essentially an IQ test. Very often, however, (and this is based on my own experience as an examiner in one state agency--practices may be different in other state agencies and, in fact, practices sometimes vary between individual units of a single state agency) a claimant who has listed depression on a claim but does not seem to have a developed history of treatment for depression will be sent to an abbreviated form of exam, known as a mental status exam.
A mental status exam is designed to gauge exactly what the term implies, the mental status of the claimant. Accordingly, the report that is generated from such an exam (and sent to the disability examiner working on the case) will include data regarding presentation and appearance, observable motor coordination and gait, eye contact, speech (was it pressured?, did it occur at a normal rate and volume?), memory and recall, concentration and attention, orientation as to time and place, alertness, judgement, and ability to abstract (such as the ability to interpret a proverb).
1. What can I expect from a Social Security Mental Examination or Evaluation?
2. Social Security Disability Mental Exam Questions
3. What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?
4. Social Security Disability and SSI Process for Mental Claims
5. Social Security Disability and SSI Mental Claims and Criteria
Can you be approved for disability in Illinois on the basis of a mental status exam? Based on my experience as an examiner, I would conclude that the odds of this happening are slim to none. However, that does not mean that a claimant who is sent to a mental status exam cannot be approved. Sometimes, psychological testing is scheduled simply to obtain recent medical evidence and in many cases the existing medical evidence is sufficient to warrant an award of benefits. However, it is also true that the mere fact that a mental status exam has been ordered often indicates that the claimant's mental treatment records are either out of date, or lacking altogether.
For this reason, individuals who file for disability on the basis of depression, or, really, any mental impairment, should (for the sake of a disability application) strive to maintain a record of continuous and ongoing treatment. They should also stay compliant with their prescribed medications as a failure to do so may contribute to the basis for a denial.
About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.
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