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. Tony W.

    The mental health rule veryoutdated. The new revised criteria for evaluating mental disorders can make a difference. mentally ill people should get the necessary care.

    Tony Williams
    WordPress developer atZionWebDesign

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  4. Reader

    Good information. Thanks for sharing. I found this article useful for Anxiety Disorder

  5. relando

    well it seems nice .

  6. Marc V.

    I have been dealing with chronic, severe, debilitating, treatment-resistant anxiety and depression for more years than I can count, and I was denied disability (after appeals). Thanks SSA. I have zero housing or income stability. I’m just hoping to somehow get enough money to buy a gun so I can blow my fucking brains out. Fuck you.

  7. Michael M.

    Well im 33 MS major depressive anxiety and bi polar 1 i was a shut in for 10 plus years and Im afraid thryre just going to deny my disability claim i go April the 20th for my hearing if im denied SSI agian i think I will just end it

  8. James c.

    If i stop my wifes social security will that clear her mental health history

  9. Cara S.

    PTSD and GAD diagnosis effected two jobs cannot work 55 years old. Anxiety severe. Does disability affect unemployment benefits?

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