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Social Security Administration's new rule for mental disorders

In Missouri and elsewhere, not only does obtaining Social Security disability benefits hinge on a disabled individual's ability to show that he or she meets federal requirements laid out by the Social Security Administration, but so, too, does retaining those benefits. Therefore, if an individual's medical condition improves to the point that he or she becomes able to work, then benefits may be discontinued. Yet not all changes involving one's ability to meet the requirements are tied directly to the individual. Sometimes the requirements themselves change.

This may be the case for many suffering from disabling mental disorders. The Social Security Administration recently finalized a rule to revise the medical criteria to be used when evaluating these conditions. Taking effect on January 17, 2017, the rule seeks to reflect standards and practices that are current in the industry. The SSA considered input from current beneficiaries, mental health providers and advocacy groups before creating the revisions.

The new rule creates many changes. First, the rule creates a section recognizing trauma and stressor-related disorders. This includes post-traumatic stress disorder. Previously, these conditions were analyzed under anxiety-related disorders, but now that they have their own section they can be more properly evaluated. Also, the new rule includes a section for intellectual disorders and how those conditions are medically evaluated. This includes information about the acceptable standardized tests that will be acceptable as evidence and how the SSA assesses IQ scores has changed.

The new rule is quite lengthy, and identifying the changes can be challenging. Those who currently receive SSD benefits, as well as those seeking disability benefits, should consider looking over the new rule to see how, it at all, the new rule will affect them in the new year. Those who need assistance making sense of and complying with the new rule may want to speak with their attorney.

Source: Office of the Federal Register, "Revised Medical Criteria for Evaluating Mental Disorders," accessed on Oct. 16, 2016

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Alan E. DeWoskin, P.C.
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