Health Care:

SSA's Program for Reviewing the Disability of Persons With Mental Impairments

Published: Apr 7, 1983. Publicly Released: Apr 7, 1983.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO testified on the Social Security Administration's (SSA) current process for determining whether persons with mental impairments qualify for disability under two SSA disability programs. GAO reviewed a total of 159 mental disability cases that had been recently adjudicated by SSA and examined 40 denials or terminations in detail. Although this case review could not be projected to all mental disability cases adjudicated, its findings had national implications. The current review revealed many of the same conditions which had been reported by GAO earlier. The GAO clinical psychologist concluded that 27 of the terminated cases involved individuals who could not function in their daily living without support and could not work in a competitive or stressful environment. In addition, it was concluded that more medical or psychological information or trial work experiences were needed to make an informed decision. The GAO review revealed several weaknesses in the SSA and State Disability Determination Services (DDS's) including: (1) an overly restrictive interpretation of the criteria to meet SSA medical listings; (2) inadequate development and consideration of a person's residual functional capacity and vocational characteristics; (3) inadequate development and use of existing medical evidence; and (4) insufficient psychiatric resources in most State DDS's.

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