Getting approved for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) can be difficult. In fact, nearly 70 percent of applications are denied in the initial stage of the Social Security Administration's (SSA) five-step evaluations process. Oftentimes, denials are due to a lack of sufficient medical evidence from acceptable medical sources (AMS).
Obtaining the SSDI benefits you need can be particularly difficult when your claim is based on mental illness or includes a combination of physical and mental disabilities. A neuropsychological evaluation, which is designed to establish the existence and extent of brain dysfunction and how it affects your everyday life, can provide valuable medical evidence to support your claim. Here's what you should know about neuropsychological testing, how it can help your SSDI claim, and how Keefe Disability Law's experienced Boston attorneys can assist you in applying and fighting for the benefits you deserve.
What a Neuropsychological Evaluation Is and Measures
A neuropsychological evaluation is a battery of tests administered by a neuropsychologist, a psychologist who specializes in the relationship between the brain and behavior, and a trained technician called a psychometrist. These tests measure how well your brain works, assessing abilities such as:
- Attention and concentration
- Language usage and comprehension (understanding what others say)
- Reading and reading comprehension
- Learning and retaining new information
- Auditory and visual information processing (and processing speed)
- Visuospatial skills
- Motor speed and dexterity
- Mood and personality
- Executive functions (higher-level skills like organization and planning, time management, problem-solving, multitasking, judgment, and self-control)
Conditions Neuropsychological Testing Can Support
Qualifying for SSDI can be difficult, partly due to the SSA's stringent and restrictive definition of disability. Neuropsychological evaluations can help the disability examiners handling your claim understand how mental health disorders (or conditions with mental health components) affect your perception, sensation, coordination, motor speed, social behavior, and other critical factors on a daily basis. This can be particularly helpful if your SSDI claim is based on or includes conditions such as:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Attention-deficient hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Multiple sclerosis
- Bipolar disorder
What to Expect During a Neuropsychological Examination
After discussing your cognitive functioning and symptoms with a neuropsychologist, they thoroughly review your physical and mental health history, educational background, and any family history of mental illness before deciding which specific tests your evaluation will include.
A psychometrist technician administers and scores the selected tests while the neuropsychologist supervises. Depending on what your neuropsychologist determines is relevant, your neuropsych evaluation could include tests that involve solving puzzles, answering questions, writing or drawing, responding to images and questions presented on a computer, or filling out written questionnaires about your mood. Once you've completed the battery of tests, the neuropsychologist writes a summary of the results, which may include treatment recommendations or referrals to other medical specialists. Keep in mind:
- The tests in a neuropsychological exam may vary in difficulty level. To obtain the best results (most accurate and most helpful to your claim), you're encouraged to do your best, regardless of difficulty.
- If you're amenable to involving family members in your quest for SSDI, interviews with your loved ones can provide valuable information on your symptoms and impairments in daily life.
- The average neuropsychological takes between two and four hours. However, in some cases, neuropsych evaluations can take up to eight hours, especially if your conditions are complex or you want the neuropsychologist to interview your family members.
Our Knowledgeable and Experienced New England Disability Lawyers Can Help You Fight for SSDI Benefits
Applying for SSDI can be difficult, period, and applying for SSDI for a mental illness can be especially challenging. Not only can Keefe Disability Law's exceptional legal team help you navigate the SSDI application process, but we can also connect you with reputable medical professionals who can help you build the evidence needed to support your claim.
Are You Looking for a Social Security Disability Attorney in Boston, MA?
If you are looking to apply for social security disability, you need to speak with an experienced social security disability lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Natick Office directly at 888.904.6847 to schedule your free consultation.