Mental Disorders Rule Update

September 23, 2016 • By

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Last Updated: September 23, 2016

Woman with documents sitting on the deskOn Monday, September 26, Social Security will publish a final rule to update the criteria we use to evaluate disability claims involving mental disorders. This rule, “Revised Medical Criteria for Evaluating Mental Disorders,” is the most comprehensive revision to the criteria since 1985.

Upon publishing this final rule, our standards and terminology for evaluating claims involving mental disorders reflect information from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition — the mental health profession’s current standard classification of mental disorders.

While updating this rule, the public had questions about our criteria for evaluating intellectual disability. From childhood onward, people with intellectual disabilities experience deficits in intellectual functioning and lack many basic daily practical and social skills. We decided it was critical to ensure these individuals receive necessary assistance as soon as possible. Therefore, we updated the diagnostic and functional criteria for this disorder and are using IQ test score criteria to identify quickly people who may qualify for disability benefits based on an intellectual disability.

Besides reflecting comments from members of the public, the rule reflects the expertise of disability policy experts, adjudicators, psychiatric professionals, and vocational experts.

During the careful, considered process of updating the rule, we’ve engaged with stakeholders, including: disability beneficiaries and their family members; psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health treatment providers; and advocacy groups for those with mental disorders. We also solicited, responded to, and incorporated public comments, and considered an intellectual disability report we commissioned from the National Academy of Sciences.

People with mental disorders are some of the most vulnerable members in our society, and we take our duty to provide them with effective service and support seriously. Publishing this rule is just one way we’re meeting our priority to secure today and tomorrow for millions throughout life’s journey.

You can learn more about the rule here.

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About the Author

Doug Walker, Deputy Commissioner, Communications

Deputy Commissioner, Office of Communications


  1. hadi

    thank you for this news and this article i want go to school your article useful me
    this site is good
    hadi sharifi

  2. Allan P.

    CBT therapy is one of the most effective therapies in my opinion, I can tell you that based on several experiences. Do you know what its plus side is? I’ve had various mental health issues and it was the only thing that made me feel better. https://drmental.org/best-online-cbt-therapy . It’s like a little person gets inside your head and completely forms a new consciousness. You begin to think more clearly, forget about small problems. At this platform you will be matched with a therapist who will help you individually.

  3. Marge M.

    Finally after years of being slow, failing grades in school, being paranoid, not being able to keep a job because I could not keep up the pace and understand what they wanted and so much more I was diagnosed with an IQ of 65 and the doctor told me to file for disability right now but I don’t know who to file with. Should I file with Social Security or what/who? And what all will I need to file?

    • Vonda

      Hi Marge, thanks for using our blog. We pay disability benefits through two programs: the Social Security Disability Insurance program (SSDI) and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. To qualify for SSDI benefits, you must have worked long enough and recently enough in jobs covered by Social Security (usually within the last 10 years). The (SSI) program is a needs based program that gives cash assistance to disabled individuals with limited income and resources. We pay disability benefits to people who are unable to work because of a medical condition that is expected to last one year or more or to end in death. If you think you may be eligible to receive disability benefits and would like to apply, you can use our online application.

      If you don’t want to or are unable to apply online, call us at 1-800-772-1213 or you can contact your local Social Security office. Please look for the general inquiry telephone number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information. Please be aware that our call wait times are longer than normal. We hope this information helps.

    • Jon s.

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