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GAF scores and Disability Compensation from SSA and DVA

Does Your GAF Score Support Your Disability Application?

When the Social Security Administration (SSA) or the Department of Veterans Affairs(VA) considers your disability application, they try to understand how your illness or injury affects your day-to-day life and ability to work. In cases with a psychological component, a Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) score is used to help the SSA or VA better understand the challenges you face.

What is My Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) Score?

If you’ve consulted with a psychiatrist or psychologist, he or she will assess your ability to function in every day family, personal business, and work situations – as well as your ability to care for yourself. This assessment is your GAF score.

Possible scores range from 1 to 100 with 1 being the potential to harm yourself or someone else and 100 being normal.

Why is the GAF Score Used?

GAF scoring is used to standardize psychological assessment. Both the Social Security and Department of Veterans Affairs recognize that not all injuries and illnesses are solely physical.

Psychological problems such as anxiety and panic attacks, depression, post-traumatic stress syndrome, or other diagnoses are very real and very disabling.

Why Your GAF Score Matters

The SSA and the VA use your GAF score to help them determine whether you meet their definition of disability.

If your disability application has any psychological component (even if based on a physical cause), your GAF score will be considered. Your score identifies your level of disability.

Here is the Actual GAF Score Chart

This is the standard used to quantify your limitations so the SSA or the VA understands what you go through every day.

• 91 – 100 No symptoms. Superior functioning in a wide range of activities, life’s problems never seem to get out of hand, is sought out by others because of his or her many positive qualities.

• 81 – 90 Absent or minimal symptoms (e.g., mild anxiety before an exam), good functioning in all areas, interested and involved in a wide range of activities, socially effective, generally satisfied with life, no more than everyday problems or concerns (e.g., an occasional argument with family members).

• 71 – 80 If symptoms are present, they are transient and expectable reactions to psychosocial stressors (e.g., difficulty concentrating after family argument); no more than slight impairment in social, occupational, or school functioning (e.g., temporarily falling behind in schoolwork).

• 61 – 70 Some mild symptoms (e.g., depressed mood and mild insomnia) OR some difficulty in social, occupational, or school functioning (e.g., occasional truancy, or theft within the household), but generally functioning pretty well, has some meaningful interpersonal relationships.

• 51 – 60 Moderate symptoms (e.g., flat affect and circumstantial speech, occasional panic attacks) OR moderate difficulty in social, occupational, or school functioning (e.g., few friends, conflicts with peers or co-workers).

• 41 – 50 Serious symptoms (e.g., suicidal ideation, severe obsessional rituals, frequent shoplifting) OR any serious impairment in social, occupational, or school functioning (e.g., no friends, unable to keep a job).

• 31 – 40 Some impairment in reality testing or communication (e.g., speech is at times illogical, obscure, or irrelevant) OR major impairment in several areas, such as work or school, family relations, judgment, thinking, or mood (e.g., depressed adult avoids friends, neglects family, and is unable to work; child frequently beats up younger children, is defiant at home, and is failing at school).

• 21 – 30 Behavior is considerably influenced by delusions or hallucinations OR serious impairment, in communication or judgment (e.g., sometimes incoherent, acts grossly inappropriately, suicidal preoccupation) OR inability to function in almost all areas (e.g., stays in bed all day, no job, home, or friends)

• 11 – 20 Some danger of hurting self or others (e.g., suicide attempts without clear expectation of death; frequently violent; manic excitement) OR occasionally fails to maintain minimal personal hygiene (e.g., smears feces) OR gross impairment in communication (e.g., largely incoherent or mute).

• 1 – 10 Persistent danger of severely hurting self or others (e.g., recurrent violence) OR persistent inability to maintain minimal personal hygiene OR serious suicidal act with clear expectation of death.

• 0 Inadequate information

Where to Get Help with Your Disability Application

We are proud to help those who are too injured or too ill to work get the disability benefits they’ve earned – and – we invite you to contact us for a free case evaluation so you can find out whether a Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) score is needed in your disability case. While our disability law offices are physically located throughout Central Florida, we represent clients nationwide. We welcome you to contact us toll free at 1-888-477-2363 or email our disability attorneys here.

For Questions About Your Disability Claim... Contact Us



by Matthew Hill

January 24, 2013

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