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May 27, 2012

Looking For A Shortcut But Not Finding One

During the afternoon, the Board met with representatives from both SSA [Social Security Administration] and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) regarding their collaboration ...

The SSA-NIH presentation highlighted two projects: 1) CAL 1 – an analytic project where NIH researchers developed a systematic approach to select conditions for inclusion in SSA’s Compassionate Allowance (CAL) list; and 2) Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT) tools – instruments that will help SSA to measure individual function comprehensively, consistently, and quickly. ... The goal of the CAT tool is the systematic collection of information regarding a claimant’s functioning which can then be scored as part of the determination process.
      CAT appears to be a type of test that might have some usefulness in evaluating potential employees or students but I have a hard time imagining that they would be of any use in disability determination.They tell you nothing about a person's physical abilities. In terms of mental ability, they wouldn't, for instance, tell you whether a claimant suffers from hallucinations or delusions or panic attacks. One might think of them as an alternative to IQ testing but unless you plan to dramatically increase the number of people found disabled, CAT would be useless because anyone close to being found disabled by Social Security due to mental retardation is functionally illiterate and incapable of using a computer for anything like this.
     The SSAB is looking for shortcuts. This is a dead end.

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