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Neuropsychological Evaluation Tips From a Disability Attorney

Disability Wiki.

stethoscope and gavelYour disability attorney will tell what to expect at your neuropsychological evaluation.  Knowing what to expect will decrease any stress or anxiety you have about undergoing the testing. 

The most common questions are answered below to help prepare you for your upcoming evaluation.

Will the neuropsychologist be familiar with my medical condition and history?

Maybe.  Neuropsychologists usually review some, but not all, of your medical records before beginning the evaluation.  If you're represented by an experienced long term disability attorney, your attorney’s office will provide the neuropsychologist with as much information as possible prior to your evaluation.

To become even more familiar with your conditions and history, the neuropsychologist will likely ask you a series of interview-style questions at the beginning of the evaluation.  For example, the neuropsychologist may ask you about your:

  • Diagnosis
  • Symptoms
  • Treatment
  • Medications and any side effects
  • Past medical history
  • Family social history
  • Family medical history
  • Development during childhood
  • Personal relationships
  • Educational background
  • Work history
  • Difficulties performing work

It is very important to provide comprehensive, detailed, and accurate responses so that the neuropsychologist can have the best possible understanding of your background and disability.  Failure to provide thorough responses may lead to inaccurate or incomplete conclusions.  You should never assume that the neuropsychologist knows something about your condition unless you told him or her about it.

How long will the evaluation last?

The length of the evaluation will vary depending on the types of testing that the neuropsychologist performs.  Typically, the evaluation will be performed over the course of one to two full days.  The testing may take longer if you require frequent rest breaks.

The neuropsychologist may discontinue testing if he or she feels that more testing may harm your emotional condition or put you at further risk.  The neuropsychologist may also discontinue testing if he or she feels that there is already enough reliable evidence to draw conclusions about your conditions and cognitive functioning.

You should not necessarily be alarmed if the neuropsychologist discontinues testing early.  However, you should be sure to tell your disability attorney if your testing is cut short.  Your attorney will likely request additional information from the neuropsychologist as to why testing was discontinued.

Will the neuropsychologist let me take breaks during testing?

Yes.  The neuropsychologist should provide regular breaks for you to eat and to use the restroom.  The neuropsychologist should also grant you any additional breaks that you request.

Is the testing stressful?

It depends.  Some people find the neuropsychological testing to be very stressful.  More often though, people find the testing to be very tiring since you must remain engaged for long periods of time.  You may always request a break if you are experiencing high stress levels or severe fatigue during testing.

What kind of testing will the neuropsychologist perform?

The neuropsychologist will perform a battery of testing to determine the presence, severity, and impact of any cognitive and/or emotional conditions on your ability to function.

After conducting the initial interview, the neuropsychologist will likely perform a “mental status” examination, which will include an assessment of your orientation to person, place, and time; general appearance (e.g., dressed neatly and appropriately versus disheveled and with poor hygiene); quality of speech (e.g., slow versus rapid and pressured); distractibility; quality of judgment and insight; and your affect/mood (e.g., liable and depressed).

After performing the initial mental status examination, the neuropsychologist will begin the more thorough and objective neuropsychological testing.  The neuropsychologist will likely perform testing to measure your:

  • General intellectual functioning, including global IQ, verbal comprehension, perceptual organization, working memory, and speed processing
  • Executive functioning
  • Attention/memory flexibility
  • Language
  • Learning/memory
  • Visuospatial/visuomotor skills
  • Motor skills
  • Emotional/behavioral assessment (usually using the second revised version of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory test commonly known as “MMPI-2”)

While each neuropsychologist may administer different tests, most neuropsychologists select tests aimed at measuring your functioning in the areas listed above.

The neuropsychologist will also likely perform “validity testing” or “effort testing.”  These tests seek to determine whether you exaggerated your cognitive difficulties and/or failed to consistently put forth your best efforts during testing.  If you fail the validity or effort testing, the neuropsychologist and the insurance company may deem some or all of the results “invalid.”  Failure to pass validity testing can also lead to questions of your credibility.  To increase your chances of passing the validity or effort testing, you must consistently put forth your best efforts during all testing.

How will the neuropsychologist interpret the results of my testing?

The neuropsychologist will collect the “raw data” from your test results before conducting a very scientific and methodical evaluation of the results.  It is important to note that evaluation and interpretation of the raw data may vary between different neuropsychologists.  At times, neuropsychologists may disagree about the significance of certain raw data.

What conclusions will the neuropsychologist draw?

After reviewing your history and records, evaluating your mental status, and interpreting the raw data, the neuropsychologist will be able to draw a number of conclusions about your condition and functioning.  The neuropsychologist will be able to determine:

  • Your primary and secondary diagnosis
  • The impact of your diagnosis on your ability to function
  • Any factors or stressors that may be contributing to your inability to function in certain areas
  • Your ability to handle stress
  • Your ability to maintain full- or part-time employment
  • Whether you can perform your own occupation or any other related occupation

Can a disability attorney help guide me through my neuropsychological evaluation?

Absolutely.  A seasoned long term disability attorney and staff at Riemer Hess will thoroughly prepare you for your upcoming neuropsychological examination so that there are no surprises.  Riemer Hess will also work to provide the neuropsychologist with all of your relevant medical records for review prior to the evaluation.  After the testing is completed, the attorneys at Riemer Hess will review the neuropsychological report to identify any errors or inconsistencies and take any remedial measures necessary.  Contact an experienced long term disability attorney at Riemer Hess today to discuss how we can help guide you through your upcoming neuropsychological evaluation.

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