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SSA revises medical criteria for assessing mental disability

Before any Tennessean receives Social Security disability benefits, his or her disability will be evaluated by the Social Security Administration. The SSA evaluates disabilities based on specific medical criteria, which vary depending on the nature of an individual's disability. The SSA has recently announced that it is revising the medical criteria they use to evaluate mental disorders prior to awarding SSDI benefits.

Specifically, the SSA is revising the criteria in their official Listing of Impairments regarding mental disorders for both children and adults. They use this criteria to evaluate applicants' particular claims. For example, one change made regarding evaluation of medical criteria has to do with non-medical sources of evidence. Pursuant to its revised criteria, the SSA may ask third parties, such as shelter staff, social workers and community support workers, to provide information about an applicant's medical impairments. However, the Agency must have the applicant's permission before seeking this information.

Additionally, the revised medical criteria rule indicates how the SSA might evaluate a person's mental disorder when longitudinal evidence, which helps reveal how an individual behaves over time, is not available. The revised criteria notes that a person who experiences chronic homelessness may have difficulty providing longitudinal medical evidence.

The final rule will go into effect in January 2017 and follows a comprehensive process that took into consideration the input of those with disabilities and their families, as well as mental disorder advocacy groups and mental-health treatment providers, among other relevant information. If you or a loved one has questions regarding disability benefits for a mental disorder, you may find that an attorney can provide helpful guidance.

Source: Social Security Administration, "Social Security Publishes Final Rule to Revise Medical Criteria for Evaluating Mental Disorders," Sep. 23, 2016

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