The Current Use of GAF Scores by the Social Security

Published by the American Psychiatric Associat...

Published by the American Psychiatric Association, the DSM-IV-TR provides a common language and standard criteria for the classification of mental disorders. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

     With the publication of the Fifth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) earlier this year, GAF scores are no longer included and the question arises of what will the Social Security Administration do with GAF rating when determining disability?  According to Administrative Message AM-13066 (July 22, 2013):

We consider a GAF rating as opinion evidence.  As with other opinion evidence, the extent o which an adjudicator can rely on the GAF rating as a measure of impairment severity and mental functioning depends on whether the GAF rating is consistent with other evidence, how familiar the rater is with the claimant, and the rater’s expertise.

 Factors that adjudicators must consider in evaluating GAF ratings include:

  • A GAF rating needs supporting evidence to be given much weight.
  • A GAF scores is never dispositive of impairment severity.  It is not be given controlling weight if from a treating source unless it is well-supported and not inconsistent with the other evidence in the file.
  • A GAF score from a treating source is still medical opinion evidence, even if not given controlling weight, and “good reasons” must be provided in the decision if it is not given controlling weight.
  • A GAF rating cannot be used to establish the diagnostic criteria of “mental retardation” or “intellectual disability” because it lacks specificity, is not a standardized measure of intelligence and adaptive behavior, and may not reflect a claimant’s functioning over time.
  • A GAF score does not equate to a particular mental RFC assessment.  The GAF does not measure the ability to meet the mental demands of unskilled work and there is no correlation between GAF scores and the B criteria in the mental disorders listings.

      If you need more information about a Social Security Disability/SSI matter, personal injury matter (car wreck, boating accident, slip and fall, etc.), EEOICPA claim, long or short-term disability, VA disability, Railroad Retirement Board disability, or a workers compensation matter, please contact the Law Offices of Tony Farmer and John Dreiser for a free case evaluation.  We can be reached at (865) 584-1211 or (800) 806-4611, through Facebook, or through our website.  Our office handles claims throughout East Tennessee, including Knoxville, ChattanoogaKingsport, Bristol, Johnson City, Morristown, Maryville, Rogersville, Dandridge, Tazewell, New Tazewell, Jefferson City, Strawberry Plains, Sevierville, Gatlinburg, Loudon, Kingston, Halls, Maynardville, Crossville, Cookeville, Jamestown, Sweetwater, Lenoir City, Athens, Oak Ridge, Clinton, LaFollette, Lake City, Jacksboro, Bean Station, Cosby, Newport, White Pine, Mosheim, Wartburg, Sunbright, Pigeon Forge, and Deer Lodge.


About farmerdreiser

Based in Knoxville, Tennessee, The Law Offices of Tony Farmer and John Dreiser provide comprehensive representation to injured victims throughout eastern Tennessee in personal injury, Social Security disability, and workers' compensation cases.
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