GAF (Global Assessment of Function) Score For A Psychiatric Injury: What Does It Mean And How To Interpret It?


If your employer says “IDGAF about your GAF score,” and you have no clue what he/she is talking about, you definitely need legal help from a Los Angeles stress-related injury lawyer.

A GAF (Global Assessment of Function) score is used to evaluate the severity of a workers psychiatric injury. The GAF score is required to assign Permanent Disability to an injured worker who claims to have sustained a work-related psychiatric injury.

Many of our readers ask our workers compensation lawyers at Law Offices of Kropach & Kropach the following question: “I have been provided a GAF score, but I have no idea what it means?” Let us help you out.

What does GAF score mean?

Long story short, in order to obtain a Psychiatric Permanent Disability Percentage, you must obtain a permanent disability rating, which, in turn, requires a GAF score. I know, sounds complicated. What you need to understand is that the GAF rating must be obtained via an evaluation by a competent mental health practitioner in California. Generally, a treating psychiatrist and psychologist can make this evaluation in order to conclude whether or not a worker has a permanent disability and assess the severity of his or her psychiatric injury.

In California, psychiatrists and psychologists are instructed to evaluate psychiatric injuries using the Global Assessment of Function (GAF) scale. After the medical professional determines the GAF score, that score will be converted to a whole person impairment rating using the GAF conversion table. Afterward, the medical provider will be able to generate a permanent disability percentage.

How to interpret GAF score 1 to 100

Our experienced stress-related injuries lawyer in Los Angeles, CA explains that in order to determine the GAF score, the mental health practitioner must assess the injured workers social, occupational, and psychological functioning. You can get any score ranging from 1 to 100, where a score of 100 would mean that you are perfectly healthy, while a score of 1 would mean that your mental health and all aspects of your life have been severely impacted by your psychiatric injury.

Your treating psychiatrist or psychologist will provide two GAF scores, one for symptom severity, and the other one for functioning severity. Basically, the lower your GAF score, the more likely you are to get workers comp benefits and the higher your permanent disability percentage. If you have been provided with a GAF score of 70 or higher, you have zero percent in permanent disability percentage, and thus are not entitled to seek permanent disability benefits.

What is being evaluated for the GAF score

Many of our readers also wonder what elements are being evaluated by the mental health practitioner to determine the GAF score. In order to ensure that the mental health evaluation following your psychiatric injury is complete and comprehensive, a medical professional will look into all of the following:

  • Engagement and interest in activities: including but not limited to evaluation of what you do at home, hygiene and communication issues, whether or not you hang out with friends, whether or not you go to work or prefer to spend all day at home, etc.
  • Social interactions: This includes evaluation of how many friends you have, how much time you spend with your friends, and how your friendships have changed following the psychiatric injury.
  • Family interactions: This includes evaluation of your relationship with family members, including but not limited to determining whether you have any disputes or disagreements with family members, whether you have committed domestic violence or neglected/abused your spouse or children, etc.
  • Performance at work: If you work despite your psychiatric injury, a mental health practitioner will evaluate your performance and interactions at work. This includes but is not limited to your relations with co-workers, supervisors, and employer, your ability to complete tasks in time, any noticeable changes in your performance prior to and after the injury, etc.

Speak to our Los Angeles stress relates injuries attorney at Law Offices of Kropach & Kropach to learn more about your particular situation. A psychiatric injury and mental health issues are no joke. You need a serious and aggressive legal approach to obtain workers comp benefits, because, as you can imagine, those mental health evaluations can be unfair, biased, manipulated, and conducted in a way to deny or limit your claim. Get a free consultation by calling at 818-609-7005.

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