Neuropsychological evaluation: Do I need one for my disability claim?

Who should consider a neuropsychological evaluation?

If you suffer from any of a long list of medical conditions, cognitive functions may be impacted. While many conditions such as traumatic brain injuries, brain tumors or Alzheimer’s have expected symptoms of cognitive dysfunction, there are other medical conditions that also result in cognitive impairments.  Conditions such as long-term stroke, seizure disorders, sleep apnea, chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Lyme disease, or cardiac conditions can all impair cognitive function. In many cases, a neuropsychological evaluation can help patients who seek answers to help improve their quality of life, in addition to providing important information about their true medical status disability claim examiners. The information gained through a neuropsychological evaluation can be critical to identify and quantify the restrictions and limitations on your ability to work.

 

How long and where?

Neuropsychology evaluations are performed in the neuropsychologist’s office. Depending on the case, the evaluation should take approximately 3 hours but can be performed as quickly as 1 hour and as long as 2 days.

 

What does a neuropsychology evaluation measure?

A neuropsychologist uses various testing measures to determine how your medical condition affects several areas of your brain functions, including verbal functioning, executive functioning, memory, processing speed and problem-solving capabilities.  Additionally, screening can be performed during the testing to determine any underlying psychological disorders that may be amplifying any cognitive dysfunctions.

 

What is the evaluation like?

  • A neuropsychological evaluation has three main parts, after which the neuropsychologist will summarize the information and data collected to prepare a rather lengthy report detailing the findings. First, the neuropsychologist will review your medical records. Secondly, the doctor will interview you (and/or caregiver if necessary). Finally, an array of tests are given to provide the examiner with data that will determine the extent of impairments of your mental capabilities in several areas.

 

  • When you arrive at the office for the evaluation, have all of your previous medical records or make sure they had been already provided to the neuropsychologist’s office for their review. If you have prepared your own Medical history document, make sure to bring a current version. Bring an updated list of any medications you are currently taking. The interview portion of the evaluation will include conversations with the neuropsychologist (or testing assistant) in which they will ask a variety of questions about your favorite TV show or movie, your recent activities,  or your favorite sports teams. These questions allow them to collect preliminary data as to your verbal fluency and memory.

 

  • Most of the time is then spent on completing tests that measure your cognitive function in several areas:  psychomotor speed, attention, visuospatial functioning, executive functioning, language, and memory.  There are various tests to use to evaluate your cognitive brain functions. Attention and processing speed are usually tested with tests in which you connect numerical or alphabetical dots in an allotted amount of time.  Executive functioning may be assessed with pen and paper tasks, such as drawing a clock face, putting in all the numbers, and showing a specific clock time for example. Problem-solving functioning can be checked using a variety of tests that require you to sort pictures into groups. Verbal fluency can be tested through letter and category naming activities where you name items beginning with certain letters or belonging to certain categories. Tests of visuospatial abilities may require you to copy simple drawings or to find shapes or items within given drawings. Examiners may also give test takers questionnaires to determine any mood issues that compromise cognitive functioning as well.

 

What do I do with the results?

Once the neuropsychological evaluation is complete and the doctor finalizes the report, the information and findings in the report can be used to provide a clearer understanding of your cognitive weaknesses, which can help explain the symptoms of your condition, as well as provide recommendations to help prove your disability, and substantiate the restrictions and limitations of your abilities to work.

Insurance claim examiners and their doctors consider these test results as an objective source of evidence in considering cognitive impairments. Neuropsychologists interpret the raw data from the tests and prepare a report that identifies any cognitive deficits that restrict and limit your ability to work. The results of the evaluation can help provide proof for “subjective” difficulties with issues such as maintaining focus, staying on task, expressing your thoughts verbally or in writing, processing or comprehending written or verbal communication, adhering to a schedule, or remembering details.

 

Further questions?

If you have any other questions about how a neuropsychological evaluation can help or affect your disability claim, or if you have any other questions about your disability claim, please contact our offices for a free consultation by calling toll-free at (855) 828-4100 or by filling out the contact form on the right-hand side of this page.

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