Keyword: social security, IQ
Hearing Officer: Deirdre Rosenberg
Counsel present for Appellant: No
Counsel present for DMR: John Mitchell
Appellant present: yes
Hearing Officer decision: Jan. 16, 2008
Appeal denied by Commissioner: Feb. 1, 2008
The issue presented in this case is whether Appellant meets the eligibility for DMR services by reason of mental retardation (115 CMR 6.03(1)).
Appellant is originally from Puerto Rico, and moved to the United States when he was nine years old. The first cognitive evaluation on record for Appellant was in 1975, when he was 13 years old. The clinician noted he had numerous signs of neurological dysfunction, but that his IQ on the Spanish edition of the WISC scale was in the normal range. His reading and decoding skills were described as being at a second grade level, but this was assumed to be attributed to his bilingualism. Appellant was tested again in 1981, and he scored in the low-average range in verbal ability, and in the average range in performance ability and intellectual ability overall. However, he was still performing at a second grade level. The doctor testing him assumed this was a result of his very spotty attendance record in school. Appellant never finished high school, and he has never held a job. In addition to his academic difficulties he also has some physical problems (asthma, obesity, hearing loss, and eye problems which he had surgery to correct).
The DMR psychologist determined that Appellant was not eligible for services based on his IQ score. The hearing officer did not bother to look too carefully into the evidence regarding Appellants adaptive skills since his IQ already exceeded DMR's standard. Appellant receives Social Security benefits as a result of mental retardation, but the hearing officer points out DMR and the Social Security system likely use different standards, therefore being eligible for one does not automatically make you eligible for the other.
The hearing officer focuses on the IQ portion of the eligibility test, and agrees with DMR that the appellant should not be eligible for their services. Appellant's IQ (although no numerical value is noted in his charts) is estimated to be around 80 or higher. DMR requires an IQ of 70-75 in order to be eligible for benefits.