The Importance of Test Results in Childhood SSI Psychological Cases

     In determining whether a child qualifies for disability under the Childhood SSI regulations, the SSA determines with the child meets or exceeds a listing or whether the child functionally meets a listing through deficits in any number of six domains of function.  In a child’s case with a mental disorder, whether ADHD, autism, asperger’s, intellectual disability (formerly known as mental retardation), the results of psychological testing are very important to the determination of disability.  Some important factors from the regulations about testing are:

  • Reference to a “standardized psychological test” indicates the use of a psychological test measure that has appropriate validity, reliability, and norms, and is individually administered by a qualified specialist.
  • Psychological testing can also provide other useful data, such as the specialist’s observations regarding the child’s ability to sustain attention and concentration, relate appropriately to the specialist, and perform tasks independently (without prompts or reminders). Therefore, a report of test results should include both the objective data and any clinical observations.
  • The salient characteristics of a good test are: (1) Validity, i.e., the test measures what it is supposed to measure; (2) reliability, i.e., the consistency of results obtained over time with the same test and the same individual; (3) appropriate normative data, i.e., individual test scores can be compared to test data from other individuals or groups of a similar nature, representative of that population; and (4) wide scope of measurement, i.e., the test should measure a broad range of facets/aspects of the domain being assessed. In considering the validity of a test result, we should note and resolve any discrepancies between formal test results and the child’s customary behavior and daily activities.
  • The IQ scores in listing 112.05 reflect values from tests of general intelligence that have a mean of 100 and a standard deviation of 15, e.g., the Wechsler series. IQs obtained from standardized tests that deviate from a mean of 100 and standard deviation of 15 require conversion to a percentile rank so that the actual degree of limitation reflected by the IQ scores can be determined. In cases where more than one IQ is customarily derived from the test administered, e.g., where verbal, performance, and full scale IQs are provided in the Wechsler series, the lowest of these is used in conjunction with listing 112.05.
  • IQ test results must also be sufficiently current for accurate assessment under 112.05. Generally, the results of IQ tests tend to stabilize by the age of 16. Therefore, IQ test results obtained at age 16 or older should be viewed as a valid indication of the child’s current status, provided they are compatible with the child’s current behavior. IQ test results obtained between ages 7 and 16 should be considered current for 4 years when the tested IQ is less than 40, and for 2 years when the IQ is 40 or above. IQ test results obtained before age 7 are current for 2 years if the tested IQ is less than 40 and 1 year if at 40 or above.
  • Generally, it is preferable to use IQ measures that are wide in scope and include items that test both verbal and performance abilities. However, in special circumstances, such as the assessment of children with sensory, motor, or communication abnormalities, or those whose culture and background are not principally English-speaking, measures such as the Test of Nonverbal Intelligence, Third Edition (TONI-3), Leiter International Performance Scale-Revised (Leiter-R), or Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-Third Edition (PPVT-III) may be used.
  • Comprehensive neuropsychological examinations may be used to establish the existence and extent of compromise of brain function, particularly in cases involving organic mental disorders. Normally these examinations include assessment of cerebral dominance, basic sensation and perception, motor speed and coordination, attention and concentration, visual-motor function, memory across verbal and visual modalities, receptive and expressive speech, higher-order linguistic operations, problem-solving, abstraction ability, and general intelligence.

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, Greeneville, Harriman, Dayton, Spring City, and Deer Lodge.

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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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