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November 13, 2017

Intellectual Impairments, Social Security Disability

Why IQ Test Scores and School Records Might Be Important In Disability Cases

by Jim Abernathy

For purposes of disability under Social Security and SSI, physical and mental impairments, in combination, are taken into account.  An "Intellectual Disorder" is a type of mental impairment that can result in disability if it is severe enough and if there is the right kind of documentation of it.

The most common way of establishing that an intellectual disorder is disabling is to show that it meets criteria known as "Listing 12.05."  There are two different methods for determining whether an intellectual disorder meets this Listing.

The first method applies to those whose cognitive functioning is so profoundly impaired that they are unable to take an IQ test.  Once that is shown, then it must be shown that the person is dependent upon others for personal needs such as using the toilet, eating, dressing, or bathing.  And, there must be some evidence that supports the conclusion that the intellectual disorder began prior to reaching age 22.

The second method applies to those who are capable of taking an IQ test.   The first requirement has two parts:  The person must have either:

  1. a full-scale IQ score of 70, or
  2. a full-scale IQ score of 71-75 accompanied by a verbal or performance IQ of 70 or below. 

After demonstrating the necessary IQ scores, people claiming an intellectual disability must show "extreme" deficits in one of the following areas  of functioning or "marked" deficits in two of those areas:

  1. Understand, remember, or apply information—understanding and learning terms, instructions, and procedures; following one or or two step oral instructions to carry out a task; describing work activity to someone else; asking and answering questions and providing explanations; recognizing a mistake and correcting it; identifying and solving problems; sequencing muli-step activities; and using reason and judgment to make work-related decisions
  2. Interact with others—cooperating with others, asking for help when needed; handling conflicts with others; stating own point of view; initiating or sustaining conversation; understanding and responding to social cues (physical, verbal, emotional); responding to requests, suggestions, criticism, correction, and challenges; and keeping social interactions free of excessive irritability, sensitivity, argumentativeness, or suspiciousness;
  3. Concentrate persist, or maintain pace—initiating and performing a task that you understand and know how to do; working at an appropriate and consistent pace; completing tasks in a timely manner; ignoring or avoiding distractions while working; changing activities or work settings without being disruptive; working close to or with others without interrupting or distracting them; sustaining an ordinary routine and regular attendance at work; and working a full day without needing more than the allotted number or length of rest periods during the day; or
  4. Adapt or manage oneself—responding to demands; adapting to changes; managing your psychologically based symptoms; distinguishing between acceptable and unacceptable work performance; setting realistic goals; making plans for yourself independently of others; maintaining personal hygiene and attire appropriate to a work setting; and being aware of normal hazards and taking appropriate precautions

Finally, for people claiming an intellectual disability, the evidence must be consistent with the conclusion that the intellectual disorder began for reaching age 22.  Examples of the evidence that would demonstrate this conclusion are:  tests of intelligence or adaptive functioning, school records indicating a history of special education services based upon low intellectual functioning, individualized education programs (IEP), other school records, medical treatment records, reports from employers, statements from supervisors in a group home or sheltered workshop, and statements from other people who have known you for a long time.