Nov 17, 2010

My Comments On Proposed Psychiatric Listing Changes

Below are my comments on the proposed changes to Social Security's psychiatric Listings. Today is the final day to post your comments. To make a comment:
SSA strongly recommends submission of comments via the eRulemaking portal at On that site, follow these directions:
  • Click on "submit a comment"
  • In the space for "Enter keyword of ID," type in: SSA-2007-0101. Then click on "Search."
  • One result should appear - the SSA mental disorders NPRM. On the right side, click on "Submit a Comment."
  • Complete the form. It allows you to type in a comment (2000 characters maximum) or attach a document. To attach a document, first you "browse" and then must click on "attach."
Charles T. Hall Comments On Proposed Psychiatric Listing Changes
In general, I associate myself with the comments made by NOSSCR. In addition, I want to emphasize three points.

First, the substitution of the word "and" for the word "or" in the "B" criteria is a major change no matter what is said in the explanation of these changes. Let me give an example of the difference. Let us say that one needs to pass a test and the components of the test are:
  1. Rub your stomach
  2. Pat your head
  3. Jump up and down.
If one is required to do only one of these three things, the test is simple to pass. However, if the test requires one to rub one's stomach, pat one's head and jump up and down all at the same time, the test becomes difficult. That is essentially what is proposed here. There is no basis for making this change to make things so much more difficult for claimants suffering from mental illness.

Second, in the proposed Listing 12.05 no distinction is made between the evidence required to establish onset before age twenty-two for individuals meeting the criteria depending upon whether they meet the criteria for A, B, C or D subdivisions. Logically, an individual with an IQ of fifty-nine or less would be expected to show more obvious signs of mental retardation in early life than would an individual with an IQ of sixty to seventy. Indeed, one would expect an individual with an IQ between sixty and seventy to show only subtle signs of their mental retardation in childhood. To have the same requirement for showing lack of normal intelligence in early years for individuals with such disparate IQs is to essentially make the requirement the same, that is, to require evidence of serious mental retardation in early life. This renders Listing 12.05.C meaningless.

Third, this Listing needs to deal with some of what is happening at Social Security already in terms of the requirements to demonstrate mental retardation before age 22 or, at least, some of the things that are being used as proof that an individual was not retarded before age twenty-two. Let me give a list of things that have been used and are being used as proof that an individual was not retarded before age twenty-two:
  1. Learning to read and write
  2. Graduating from high school
  3. Getting married
  4. Having a baby
  5. Fathering a child
  6. Raising a child
  7. Living independently, even for brief periods of time
  8. Working intermittently
  9. Working steadily for a period of years
  10. Maintaining a bank account
  11. Paying bills
  12. Having a boyfriend or girlfriend
  13. Having a social life
  14. Filing a claim for Social Security benefits without outside assistance
  15. Doing household chores such as cooking and cleaning
  16. Buying groceries
  17. Being able to make change
All of these are consistent with an individual whose IQ is and always has been between sixty and seventy yet these have been used frequently to deny Social Security disability claims. I think that the Social Security Administration should deal with this by talking in the Listing about how each of these should be considered.


Anonymous said...

I've been doing this long enough to be able to say with 100% confidence, SSA is raising the bar continuously. Slowly but surely. One step at a time. Only the very people this program was designed to help will be hurt.

Anonymous said...

Anon #1 - hate to say it but I think the trend is unmistakable.