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Mental health issues are sometimes addressed during the disability evaluation.

Psychiatric diagnosis may be the primary clinical consideration or secondary to other medical illness.

Frequently, an injured worker will have medical and psychiatric pathologies. Depression is the most common psychiatric condition stemming from a bona fide physical injury. Many studies have addressed the association between chronic physical pain and depression.

After delineating diagnostic concerns and diagnosing a disability, the psychiatric examiner describes the impairment. This description may be used to rate disability. Vocational rehabilitation and human resources personnel may use it to find appropriate alternate employment for the claimant.

Following AMA guidelines, the clinician must provide a qualitative assessment of impairment in addition to a percentage level of disability. "Global functional" assessment involves work, daily activities and human relations; "psychological factors" involve mental health, cognition and motivation. London et al consider four areas of residual functional capacity assessment: understanding and memory, sustained concentration and persistence, social interactions, and adaptation.

Social security disability guidelines used to determine impairment are:

  • Comprehending and performing simple tasks

  • Maintaining work pace and performing complex tasks

  • Interacting with others and influencing people (interpersonal function)

  • Making independent decisions and taking responsibility for planning (executive functioning)