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Psychological tests could improve disability determinations

Michigan residents born with a disability or who developed a disability due to an illness or injury should understand their rights regarding benefits. If a disability prevents an individual from working or completing daily tasks on their own, Social Security benefits could help them with their financial and medical care needs.

According to a recent report by the Institute of Medicine, a broader use of psychological testing may be used to improve the Social Security disability determination. The report claims these tests could help improve the accuracy and consistency of disability determinations and reduce costs.

The broader use of standardized psychological tests could result in a significant reduction in applicants allowed onto the benefit rolls. State agencies currently determine disability based on medical and other evidence relevant to an applicant's case. In some cases, this means including a standardized psychological test.

Validity tests could be used in conjunction with standardized psychological tests in order to assess whether the applicant is exerting sufficient effort to perform well during the testing. This could also test whether the applicant is responding to the best of his or her capabilities and help provide a more accurate report of the symptoms suffered by an applicant.

After a review by a committee, it was recommended that these tests should only be required under specified circumstances. For example, the tests could be used if the allegations of a disability are primarily based on the applicant's self-reporting of the symptoms and objective medical evidence is not provided.

When an individual is applying for SSD benefits, they are required to supply certain documents and evidence. Applicants should be aware of the possible tests and additional evidence they might be required to provide. Individuals who have questions regarding the SSD benefits process, or who are currently dealing with issues in the process, should understand their rights and options.

Source:, "Broader use of psychological testing may improve process for social security disability determination," April 13, 2015

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