Disability Exams Research

This page highlights recent scholarly articles about disability exams published in peer-reviewed academic journals, books, and related publications.1,2

The Month, Year headlines refer to the month and year I posted the article or book on this web page.

April 2019

MMPI-2-RF Validity Scale Scores


Ingram, Paul B., Anthony M. Tarescavage, Yossef S. Ben-Porath, and Mary E. Oehlert. "Patterns of MMPI-2-Restructured Form (MMPI-2-RF) Validity Scale Scores Observed Across Veteran Affairs Settings". Psychological Services, epub ahead of print, 28 Feb 2019. https://doi.org/10.1037/ser0000339


The purpose of this investigation is to provide descriptive information on veteran response styles for a variety of VA referral types using the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI)-2-Restructured Form (MMPI-2-RF), which has well-supported protocol validity scales.

The sample included 17,640 veterans who were administered the MMPI-2-RF between when it was introduced to the VA system in 2013 until May 31, 2015 at any VA in the United States.

This study examines frequencies of protocol invalidity based on the MMPI-2-RF’s validity scales and provides comprehensive descriptive findings on validity scale scores within the VA.

Three distinct trends can be seen.

First, a majority of the sample did not elevate any of the validity scales beyond their recommended interpretive cut-scores, indicating that scores on the substantive scales would be deemed valid and interpretable in those cases.

Second, elevation rates are higher for the overreporting scales in comparison to the underreporting and non-content-based invalid responding scales.

Lastly, a majority of those with an elevation on one overreporting validity indicator also had an elevation on at least one other overreporting scale.

Implications for practice and the utility of the MMPI-2-RF within the VA are discussed.


* The authors clearly understand the influence of the compensation claim process on self-reported psychiatric symptoms. For example:

... even in ... non-compensation evaluations, where an incentive to engage in non-credible responding may not be apparent, veterans are likely to be aware the results will be integrated into their medical record and may be considered during a subsequent compensation and pension evaluation (for a comprehensive review of the compensation and pension process see Worthen & Moering, 2011)." "Higher elevation rates on MMPI-2-RF over-reporting scales may reflect the potential for secondary gain because the service-related disability compensation assessment process is intermingled with assessments conducted for treatment provision at the VA (e.g., Ray, 2017)."

* The authors were not able to compare MMPI-2-RF scores conducted as part of a C&P exam for PTSD or other mental disorders because few of the test results were coded specifically for a C&P Clinic. 

I suspect that some of the "stop codes" associated with the MMPI-2-RF administrations, e.g., "Internal Medicine", "MH Clinic", "Individual Psychology", and "MH Consultation" reflect testing conducted during a C&P exam. I base this educated guess on the fact that administratively, C&P Clinics fall under a variety of Services, e.g., Primary Care Services and Mental Health Services.  

March 2019

Mild TBI Assessment: MoCA Validity


Waldron-Perrine, Brigid, Nicolette M. Gabel, Katharine Seagly, A. Zarina Kraal, Percival Pangilinan, Robert J. Spencer, and Linas Bieliauskas. Montreal Cognitive Assessment as a Screening Tool: Influence of performance and symptom validity. Neurology: Clinical Practice, published ahead of print, 5 Mar 2019. https://doi.org/10.1212/CPJ.0000000000000604


Background: We evaluated Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) performance in a veteran traumatic brain injury (TBI) population, considering performance validity test (PVT) and symptom validity test (SVT) data, and explored associations of MoCA performance with neuropsychological test performance and self-reported distress.

Methods: Of 198 consecutively referred veterans to a Veterans Administration TBI/Polytrauma Clinic, 117 were included in the final sample. The MoCA was administered as part of the evaluation. Commonly used measures of neuropsychological functioning and performance and symptom validity were also administered to aid in diagnosis.

Results: Successively worse MoCA performances were associated with a greater number of PVT failures (ps < 0.05). Failure of both the SVT and at least 1 PVT yielded the lowest MoCA scores. Self-reported distress (both posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms and neurobehavioral cognitive symptoms) was also related to MoCA performance.

Conclusions: Performance on the MoCA is influenced by task engagement and symptom validity. Causal inferences about neurologic and neurocognitive impairment, particularly in the context of mild TBI, wherein the natural course of recovery is well known, should therefore be made cautiously when such inferences are based heavily on MoCA scores. Neuropsychologists are well versed in the assessment of performance and symptom validity and thus may be well suited to explore the influences of abnormal performances on cognitive screening.


#MoCA #TBI #SVT #PVT #validity #neuropsychology

February 2019

Forensic Perspective on Disability Evaluations


Davis, Karen M. and Michael B. Lister. Conducting Disability Evaluations with a Forensic Perspective: the Application of Criminal Responsibility Evaluation GuidelinesPsychological Injury and Law. Published ahead of print, 31 Jan 2019. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12207-019-09343-z


Although the goals of disability and criminal responsibility evaluations differ greatly, both evaluations require determining whether an individual evidences genuine impairment that aligns with a legal definition and the extent to which mental health symptoms impact the individual’s functioning.

Recommendations for how to conduct criminal responsibility evaluations often include a multi-step process for completing an objective evaluation that thoroughly addresses the clinical and legal issues at hand.

Forensic recommendations also emphasize the need to evaluate the extent to which reported symptoms are genuine and how to determine whether the clinical presentation aligns with the legal standard at issue.

This paper will illustrate how recommendations for conducting criminal responsibility evaluations can be applied to disability evaluations done to determine whether someone should receive accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) to ensure a thorough assessment that addresses relevant clinical issues and legal standards.


#disability-evaluations #disability-exams #forensic #guidelines

Moral Injury: an Integrative Review


Griffin, Brandon J., Natalie Purcell, Kristine Burkman, Brett T. Litz, Craig J. Bryan, Martha Schmitz, Claudia Villierme, Jessica Walsh, and Shira Maguen. Moral Injury: an Integrative ReviewJournal of Traumatic Stress. Published ahead of print, 28 Jan 2019. https://doi.org/10.1002/jts.22362


Individuals who are exposed to traumatic events that violate their moral values may experience severe distress and functional impairments known as “moral injuries.”

Over the last decade, moral injury has captured the attention of mental health care providers, spiritual and faith communities, media outlets, and the general public. Research about moral injury, especially among military personnel and veterans, has also proliferated.

For this article, we reviewed scientific research about moral injury. We identified 116 relevant epidemiological and clinical studies.

Epidemiological studies described a wide range of biological, psychological / behavioral, social, and religious / spiritual sequelae associated with exposure to potentially morally injurious events.

Although a dearth of empirical clinical literature exists, some authors debated how moral injury might and might not respond to evidence‐based treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) whereas others identified new treatment models to directly address moral repair.

Limitations of the literature included variable definitions of potentially morally injurious events, the absence of a consensus definition and gold‐standard measure of moral injury as an outcome, scant study of moral injury outside of military‐related contexts, and clinical investigations limited by small sample sizes and unclear mechanisms of therapeutic effect.

We conclude our review by summarizing lessons from the literature and offering recommendations for future research.


Although "moral injury" is not an official diagnosis, psychologists often discuss the concept when evaluating military veterans who have filed a PTSD disability claim with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).



Disability Examinations Require Forensic Psychology Competence


Ohio Board of Psychology. Work Disability Examinations: Forensic Psychology Competence and Resources. Published online, 8 Jul 2018.


See Disability Exams Require Forensic Psychology Competence for an in-depth review of this important psychology licensing board statement.


1. Note that I often break up abstracts into paragraphs for ease of reading and bold some of the text for the same reason.

2. Although I am a psychologist, I am not a fan of APA Style. The citation format on this page are a slight modification of Chicago Manual of Style. I deviate from the style in how dates are written and how article titles are formatted. Instead of putting "titles" in quotes, I bold the title.

Regarding dates, I prefer the U.S. military's tradition of Date Month (3-letter abbrev.) Year, e.g.,  22 Feb 2019, because this method is least likely to cause confusion.

Plus, in almost all Latin-influenced European languages, the first three letters for the name of a month are the same. See the chart below for examples.

Language "February"
Latin Februarius
Catalan Febrer
Corsican Febbraiu
Danish februar
French février
Frisian febrewaris
Galician Febreiro
German Februar
Icelandic Febrúar
Irish Feabhra
Italian febbraio
Norwegian februar
Portuguese fevereiro
Romanian februarie
Spanish febrero
Swedish februari

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