Psychological Testing in the Service of Disability Determination


Report at a Glance

  • Report Brief (PDF)

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The U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) administers two disability programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), for disabled individuals and their dependent family members, who have worked and contributed to the Social Security trust funds, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which is a means-tested program based on income and financial assets for adults aged 65 years or older and disabled adults and children. Disability determinations are based on medical and other evidence considered relevant in an applicant’s case record.  Physical or mental impairments must be established by objective medical evidence consisting of observable signs and laboratory findings, which may include standardized psychological tests. SSA asked the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to convene a committee of relevant experts to review selected psychological tests, including validity tests, and to evaluate the value of and provide guidance on the use of such testing in the adjudication of claims submitted to the SSA Disability Programs.