The Social Security Administration (SSA) Will Continue to Include the Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) in the Disability Determination Process
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) recently put out the Fifth Edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The new edition does not, as the previous edition did, include a Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) index, which clinicians use to judge how functional, overall, a patient with a mental disorder is.
Even thought the DSM-5 does not include the GAF, the SSA will still consider an individual’s GAF rating when making disability decisions. However, it will only do so under certain circumstances, and the amount of controlling weight a GAF has in a disability determination varies in conjunction with other factors.
In order to be considered in making the disability determination, a GAF must:
*come from an approved medical source
*come with supporting evidence, such as the clinician’s explanatory notes
*support other evidence in the claimant’s file
Other notes about the GAF’s role in the disability determination process:
*it is considered medical opinion evidence (and an adjudicator must provide “good reasons” for his or her decision if the GAF is not given controlling weight)
*because it is a general rating (a snapshot of an individual’s functionality at a given time), it cannot be used to make a diagnostic determination of intellectual disability.