Social Security Issues New Rules for Mental Health Listings of Impairments

Social Security has two ways to meet their disability standard: meet the pre-established Listings of Impairments or show that the overall functioning keeps you from working full time. (See Blog post on Listings) On January 17, 2017, new rules regarding the mental health Listings of Impairments go into effect.

The 12.00 Mental Listings still look the same. Each Listing continues to have an A and B or alternative C Paragraph. The A section looks at the symptoms experienced under each diagnosis; for Depression (12.04), Paragraph A looks at whether you experience thoughts of death or suicide, diminished interest in almost all activities, or decreased energy among other things.

The B requirement always involves an extreme limitation in one, or two marked limitations in the functional ability to:

  1. Understand, remember, or apply information.
  2. Interact with others.
  3. Concentrate, persist, or maintain pace.
  4. Adapt or manage oneself.

And the C part of the Listing, present in 12.03, 12.04, 12.06, and 12.15, provides an alternative to the B criteria. Paragraph C essentially requires an inability to live outside a highly supportive environment where even minimal change causes deterioration of functioning.

There were a number of changes in the names and numerical designation of the listings: 12.02 changed from “Organic Mental Disorders” to “Neurocognitive Disorders”; and Neurodevelopmental Disorders (12.11), Eating Disorders (12.13), and Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders (12.15) were previously evaluated under different numbers; and the requirements for Autism Spectrum Disorder were re-worded.

The new rules completely remove Substance Addiction Disorders, 12.09. The Social Security Administration has rules around how to deal with drug and alcohol abuse which were often confused with the 12.09 Listing. Because the Listing for Substance Addiction Disorders has been removed, all Social Security Adjudicators will now follow the current law: is any drug or alcohol abuse “material” to the other medical impairments (see our FAQ Section for more information)

But the most significant change to the Mental Listing of Impairments is the requirement that all Intellectual Disorders (12.05) must meet the Paragraph B functional limitations. Previously, you could be found disabled with a valid Full Scale IQ either under 60 or between 60-70 with another severe impairment. Now must show one extreme or two marked limitations in the ability to: 1) Understand, remember, or apply information, 2) Interact with others, 3) Concentrate, persist, or maintain pace, OR 4) Adapt or manage oneself.