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Intellectual Disability & IQ Testing

Under Social Security’s new mental health listings, the listing for intellectual disability has changed. In order for an individual to be found disabled under an intellectual disability they must have significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning evidenced by a full scale (or comparable) IQ score of 71-75 accompanied by a verbal or performance IQ score (or comparable part score) of 70 or below.  Additionally, an individual may meet the new listing by having a full scale IQ score of 70 or below on a standardized test of general intelligence.  There is a significant difference between the new listing and the old listing. The old listing was not as clear that disability could still be found with IQ scores above 70. Additionally, it is easier to determine that an individual has an intellectual disability now that an IQ of 70 is a clear defining line in the regulations.

It is important to understand that intellectual disability must be documented by psychological testing and that the individual may also need to show significant deficits in adaptive functioning in the ability to concentrate, persist, or maintain pace, interact with others, understand, remember or apply information, or the evidence about intellectual and adaptive functioning supports the conclusion that the disorder began prior to the attaining age 22. Hopefully, the changes in the regulations will encourage Judges to apply the rules in a fair manner to all people with intellectual disabilities.

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