Friday, August 13, 2010

Mental Impairments Listings to Be Changing

Already a subject of controversy in the world of disability, it appears that Section 12 of the blue book is about to experience modification. This section covers mental disorders, and there is no guidance yet as to the nature of the changes. Practitioners know already that proving disability under these listings frequently relies on subjective data and observational evidence. Certainly, the nature of these impairments require such accommodation regarding the standards that are set, but it is this counselor's hope that the SSA does not simply "solve" this problem by promulgating objective standards that exclude individuals who truly are unable to work.

Below in bold is the C portion of Blue Book listing 12.02. As even a casual observer might note, there are very few objective means to prove that this listing is met. For this reason, testimony and record development are the keystones of proving a case under this listing. An objective standard, while drawing a bright line between those who qualify for benefits and those who don't does not seem advisable in dealing with such uncertainty.

"12.02 C. Medically documented history of a chronic organic mental disorder of at least 2 years' duration that has caused more than a minimal limitation of ability to do basic work activities, with symptoms or signs currently attenuated by medication or psychosocial support, and one of the following:

1. Repeated episodes of decompensation, each of extended duration; or

2. A residual disease process that has resulted in such marginal adjustment that even a minimal increase in mental demands or change in the environment would be predicted to cause the individual to decompensate; or

3. Current history of 1 or more years' inability to function outside a highly supportive living arrangement, with an indication of continued need for such an arrangement."

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