Proposed DSM V changes and your disability claim

There is a lot of uproar in the special need/disability community on the upcoming changes in the DSM V (replacing the DSM IV), specifically with the Autism Spectrum disorders. The DSM V proposes removing both the PDD-NOS and Aspergers diagnosis and wraps everything up into one Autism disorder. Many believe this will result in a large number of thos,e now diagnosed with these two conditions, to no longer meet the diagnostic criteria for Autism.

But how might these changes affect a child or adults disability claim with Social Security? It is hard to determine how each individual judge will treat a change in a diagnosis, but that does not remove all hope. The Social Security disability process is a separate entity from the DSM. While there is some reliance on diagnosis from doctors, Social Security focuses on specific symptoms and behaviors and how they affect your ability to function in every day life. Further, the SSA listing for something like Autism, doesn’t change because there is new criteria in the DSM V. Social Security would have to follow a long process to change the listing. The current Autism listing is found in listing 12.10 Autistic disorder and other pervasive developmental disorders. Both the adult and childhood listings are similar.

For Autism, to meet the listing one must have all three of A,B, and C

a. Qualitative deficits in reciprocal social interaction; and

b. Qualitative deficits in verbal and nonverbal communication and in imaginative activity; and

c. Markedly restricted repertoire of activities and interests;

and also have at least two of the following:

1. Marked restriction of activities of daily living;

2. Marked difficulties in maintaining social functioning;

3. Marked difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace;

4. Repeated episodes of decompensation, each of extended duration.

For pervasive developmental disorders listing one must show both

a. Qualitative deficits in reciprocal social interaction; and

b. Qualitative deficits in verbal and nonverbal communication and in imaginative activity

and also have at least two of the following:

1. Marked restriction of activities of daily living;

2. Marked difficulties in maintaining social functioning;

3. Marked difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace;

4. Repeated episodes of decompensation, each of extended duration.

When comparing this to the current DSM IV the two are not the same. In some instances the DSM IV definition requires a more severe delay in areas of social interaction or communication than listing 12.12 part 1 (noted as a/b/c and a/b) while the SSA listing part 2 (noted as 1/2/3/4) requires areas that the DSM IV definition does not even address.

Thus even with a change in the diagnostic criteria in the DSM V, the approach to your Social Security claim should remain the same. Attorney’s and SSA are adept at handling claims where the diagnosis has changed over time. Remember, if your doctor decides you not longer meet the criteria for Autism, or any other condition, this does not change the symptoms and behaviors you are experiencing. It does not change the restrictions you have on your ability to work. All it changes it was your doctor may now call it.

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One response

  1. Glad to here this. The DSM-V is expensive. My copy was free when I worked for ODAR.

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