Psychological testing sheds light on malingering in workers comp disability evaluations

Stephen M. Pfeiffer | Qualified Medical Evaluator

Expert psychological testing can help determine the presence of malingering in a workers comp disability case.

By Stephen M. Pfeiffer, PhD

Malingering, as it applies to the context of criminal, civil, personal and workers comp disability evaluations, is the practice of intentionally producing false or exaggerated symptoms in order to reap the benefits of compensatory measures such as money, prescription drugs, relief from duty or avoidance of criminal prosecution. More often than not, the public becomes aware of malingering due to criminal cases, like that of Russell E. Weston Jr. – an individual diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia who is currently undergoing mental health treatment in anticipation of an eventual murder trial, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. In both this context and others, however, malingering can be incredibly difficult to assess. Studies have shown that certain behaviors can help lead to a clinical determination of malingering in a variety of different contexts. However, even when suspicious activity or evidence is present, it can take psychological testing and evaluation by a qualified psychiatric professional in order to confirm malingering on the part of an injured individual.

According to a study published in the largest national peer reviewed psychiatric journal, Primary Psychiatry, there are a number of methods through which examiners can attempt to determine whether or not an individual is guilty of malingering. These include standardized mental status tests, personality tests assessing exaggerated cognitive impairment and psychological limitations, surveillance, medical records and a direct interview with the claimant in question. Over the course of reviewing these tests, testimonies and documents, evaluators may notice certain factors that argue for or against malingering. Probable motivations, causes or evidences for malingering, for example, may include:

  • Financial incentive
  • Solution to socioeconomic or financial difficulties
  • Antisocial behavior
  • Career dissatisfaction or conflict with co-workers
  • Retirement
  • History of lying, misleading or other related behavior
  • Dramatic, exaggerated or incongruent symptoms
  • Working or engaging in active recreation during the claim period
  • Noncompliance with treatment

On the other hand, when an individual undergoes aggressive or risky treatment, exhibits obvious losses or engages in self-defeating behavior symptomatic of a genuine psychiatric trauma or disorder, there is a strong chance that the disability claim is legitimate. Experts agree, however, that the key to successful evaluation of such claims is the comprehensive analysis of data from a variety of sources and by multiple examiners; and when it comes to workers compensation cases, it is important to involve a Qualified Medical Evaluator in the process in order to ensure accurate administration of all psychological tests and instruments.

To learn more about certified medical evaluations for workers comp disability claims, visit today, or email

Related posts:

  1. Workplace bullying surpasses sexual harassment when it comes to employee trauma
  2. Legitimacy of workers comp stress claims highlights need for quick action, expert evaluation
  3. Research pinpoints common link between workplace injuries and depression in workers comp cases
  4. Escalating hospital violence threatens safety, heightens stress levels for medical employees
  5. Workplace trauma boosts PTSD risk for military and civilian employees alike

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Posted by Social Media Staff on Jan 16, 2012. Filed under Columns, Sponsored Columns, Stephen M. Pfeiffer, Ph.D.. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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