How to Get Neuropsychological Testing While Applying for Disability

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Art by Miss Diagnoses

A Neuropsychologist can perform tests on your memory, focus, concentration and cognitive ability. These tests are often very useful in documenting impairments and helping people get approved for disability. Some people find they can also be helpful in improving your treatment and your understanding of your condition.

Who Gets Neuropsychological Testing? 

You can get this type of testing for any condition that is causing problems with memory, focus and concentration, or if your medication causes these symptoms. We’ve gotten positive reports about Neuropsychological testing from readers with:

  • Myalgic Encephalomyelitis
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Chronic Lyme Disease
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Chemical Sensitivities
  • Medication injury
  • Environmental Illness
  • Mold or neurotoxic exposure
  • Mental illness
  • Traumatic Brian Injury

How Does Neuropsych Testing Help Disability Claims?

💮 When you apply for disability, Social Security will often look at your last job and see if they think you can do that job. Then they look at all the jobs you had before that. Then they look at all the jobs in the world.

💮 They may consider: “Can you be a receptionist?” “Can you work at a telephone customer service person?” “Can you do data entry?” “Can you be a security guard who sits and stares at video screens all day?”

💮 Neuropsychological testing can be helpful in showing Social Security some of the reasons why a person might not be able to do work that involves sitting (This is usually called “sedentary work”)

💮 If you are over the age of 50, the rules for this get a bit easier, and after 50, they get even easier. However, no matter what age you are it always helps to have as much good medical evidence as possible.

💮 We asked readers who were approved for disability: What medical test was the most helpful? Neuropsych testing was the number one response. Exception: Special rules for people applying for employer disability: LTD and Neuropsych testing

Finding a Neuropsychologist

💮 Where and how to find a doc: How to Find a Neuropsychologist (and how not to)

💮 Warning: You may be sent for neuropsychological testing by Social Security or by your disability company. It’s better not to rely on these tests. If at all possible, arrange for your own testing as well, with a doctor that you choose.

Sample Reports

💮 Read Lilac’s Neuropsychological Report for Fibromyalgia

💮 Read Christina’s Neuropsychological Report for ME/CFS

Neuropsychological Testing & Social Security Disability

💮 Many neuropsychological test reports will interpret test results as mental illness. Even if you don’t believe that mental illness is the underlying cause of your problems, these test results can still help your disability claim.

💮 For Social Security disability, test results that include mental illness can be very helpful. In fact, for many people, including mental health in their case is the most important factor that helps them get approved, and leaving out mental health can lead to a denial. Please learn more about: How to Include Mental Health.

💮 If mental health is part of your disability case, it will help if you are in some kind of treatment for mental health. Learn more about How to Document Mental Health for a Disability Application

Neuropsychological Testing & Private Disability

💮 If you are applying for Long Term Disability (disability through your employer) neuropsychological testing can sometimes cause problems.

💮 The neuropsychologist you choose can be important. Please read more: How Neuropsychological Testing Can Help (or hurt) Your Long Term Disability Application

💮 Long Term Disability is different than Social Security disability. If you are applying only for Social Security, you do not need to worry about this.

Brain Scans

💮 Many people find that it is a huge help to their disability applications to get both neuropsychological testing and also a brain scan. A brain scan can show physical evidence of impairment, and then the neuropsychological testing can show how that impairment affects your ability to function and work. A very strong combination!

💮 Common types of brain scans readers have found helpful are: PET scans and SPECT scans. In some cases, MRIs can help, though these do not always show results for people with ME and related conditions. Some of our readers report that “Functional MRIs” were more helpful.

💮 Another type of testing some people find helpful is QEEG Brain Mapping

Ongoing Medical Records

Social Security may also read your ongoing medical records to see if what is written in the Neuropsychological testing is consistent with what your doctor’s are noting when you go to any medical appointment. Acacia’s story:

“Neurospsychological testing on it’s own was not good enough to win my case. I lost my first hearing even after the neuropsych test. But I won my second hearing because of my doctor’s chart notes with observations of my poor memory, distractibility and inability to switch subjects fluently. This was documented throughout my medical records, and these documented observations held more weight than the test. Doctor’s observations were the main reason I was approved.” Acacia Gets Approved Through Clinical Observations 

Stories by Readers 

Stories of what happens at a neuropsych exam:

💮 Amaryllis Takes a Cognitive Test

💮 Iris Takes a Cognitive Test

💮  How to Test Your Memory 

Learn More

Applying for Disability with Lyme Disease 

Applying for Disability with ME or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Applying for Disability with Toxic Mold Exposure

Cort Johnson’s Article: A Neuropsychologist Looks at ME/CFS

What Do You Think? 

Please comment below with stories, ideas, questions or suggestions. Please let us know if any links on this page stop working.

Updated May 2019. If you found this page helpful, please share it with others by pressing one of these magic little buttons:

10 thoughts on “How to Get Neuropsychological Testing While Applying for Disability”

  1. Also, all neuropsych evaluations are not equal. The first time I had to beg for my husband to get an evaluation. The first practitioner we were referred to (after waiting more than 6 months for the appt) literally spent about 30 min with my husband and I together and about 1 hour with him alone and tested only memory and depression when it was clearly stated in the interview his issues were behavioral related to a frontal lobe brain injury. His 1 1/2 page report was a joke.
    We then sought out our own practitioner. The 2nd practitioner spent total of 12 hours testing and additional 4 hours reporting and we had a 6 page + report that described my husband’s issues perfectly. He also completed interviews with spouse and previous coworkers. We are currently waiting for an initial determination.

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  2. My biggest problem as a SS advocate is getting a dr to order neuropsych testing. I was able to do this for a client who had physical problems and neuro and psych problems. I went through their mental health counselor who referred it to the Psych dr to determine if he felt she needed it, he approved it, suggested a dr and actually the Mental Health facility paid for the testing! It was 2 days of testing which proved to be an amazing report and showed the inconsistencies of the psych dr they sent her to. The problem is getting them to order it.

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  3. How To Get On has been an absolute godsend for me. ♥️♥️♥️ I’m definitely going to try to do the neuropsych testing.

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  4. I had a brain tumor removed on 5/15/13. I now suffer with hardware rejection and constant fevers. I see a neurologist, neuropsychologist, and pain management. I do work about 30 hours a week as a Veterinary Technician. I’ve been struggling and as a result my hours have been drastically cut. I use to work 80 +. I also struggle with depression, ADHD, seizures and many other things. Am I going in the right direction? I have a brain injury due to my surgery and have cognitive deficits that can also be attributed to my insomnia. I’ve been trying to do the online application but wonder if that is the right direction. I can’t keep going at this pace but want to continue to work, just less hours. so confused….

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  5. I got a Neuropsychological Evaluation and Vocational Evaluation through OVR as I have BP1, RA and BPD. My attorney said these evaluations were given significant weight as the recommendations and supporting evidence concluded Severe Brain Dsyfunction. The recommendation was to work part time due to the results of the test.
    A year before I had a FCE paid for by OVR my results were less than light duty. From my attorney is the results of sitting occassionally was the key.
    I was denied at DDS, but around 5 months into my appeal my attorney was notified I was approved. My first payment did take 4 months. The reason given was I had a Workers Comp settlement and needed additional calculation. This brings me to another point to think about when you settle with Workers Comp is you lose that amount from Social Security Disability. My monthly payment was reduced $207 because of the settlement. At the end of the day, if I stay disabled until I am 65, I did not gain one dime by the settlement.

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