WHAT IS A GAF SCORE

A GAF score is also known as global assessment of functioning. It is used in psychiatry and psychology to get a big picture of the patient.  One explanation used to assess GAF is to “consider psychological, social and occupational functioning on a hypothetical continuum of mental health-fitness.” The scores run from 0 to 100. The higher the number the better the picture. The score of 50 is serious and the score of 60 is moderate. The GAF score can change day to day, month-to-month and year-to-year. A psychiatrist or psychologist will often use a GAF score to give himself or anyone else referencing those records an idea of the overall psychological condition of that person.

Conditions like depression or PTSD do not have a specific score. Rather, the score is based on the opinion of the person giving the score. You could have depression with a score of 90 (minimal symptoms) or a score of 40, which is some impairment in reality testing or communicating (there are other descriptions).

The Social Security Administration is somewhat ambivalent about GAF scores. Some people take the position it is not accurate and some take the position it is accurate. Some take the position they will only accept the score is given by a psychologist or psychiatrist and not a nurse practitioner or the like.

I will say that continuing scores of 50 or below typically will persuade the Social Security Administration that she would be unable to function psychologically in a job.