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What kind of testing can be done for mental illness disability?

As we have touched on previously, the basic means of evaluating applications for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) based on mental conditions and physical conditions may differ. For example, in many cases in New Jersey and elsewhere, disabling symptoms caused by physical conditions can be tested for, either by the use of imaging equipment, or chemical or genetic testing based upon samples of a patient's blood or tissues. Symptoms caused by problems considered mental or psychological in nature, however, may be less easy to objectively test, as often there is no physical change in the body that is detectable by our current medical technology. This does not mean, however, that there are no medical evaluations that can be utilized to support an SSDI application based on a mental condition.

For example, in the Social Security Administration's "Blue Book" Section 12.00, there is a reference to "standardized psychological testing." These are tests that are administered by qualified professionals and are designed as a series of questions or tasks that are meant to elicit certain responses from the patient. The professional can evaluate not only the responses themselves, but also various other factors that may be evident, such as the behavior of the patient or his or her ability to think critically or hold an attention span.

But what does the SSA consider a valid test? Well, good tests need to be able to measure with an acceptable degree of accuracy whatever characteristic it is designed to measure. They must also be reliable in that they produce similar results when given over time to the same individual. They should also be scored in such a way that the data from the test can be compared to that from tests conducted on similar segments of the population. Finally, a good test would test as wide a range as possible of the facets within the domain being evaluated.

While the above list may seem a bit confusing, there may well be certain standardized psychological tests already in existence that can be used to evaluate certain potential disabling mental conditions. To attempt to determine whether such a test may be useful evidence in a particular SSDI case, it may be wise to consider speaking with an experienced New Jersey disability lawyer.

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