How The GAF Scoring System Works And Looks Like?


A scoring system called GAF or Global Assessment of Functioning was designed for professionals to assess the daily functioning of a person suffering from mental issues. It is a scale used to measure the psychiatric illness impact on the patient’s daily functional abilities and skills.

The scores range between 0 -100, where 100 represents superior functioning. The persons’ difficulty in handling their occupational, academic, social and psychological functioning is considered to determine the score. A manual called DSM [Diagnostic & Statistical Manual] that features mental disorder criteria allows global doctors to use a universal scale to diagnose.

The latest GAF score edition was DSM-5 but got replaced with WHODAS 2.0 [World Health Organization Disability Assessment Schedule 2].

Why is the GAF scaling system used?

A person suffering from mental illness finds it hard to go through their daily activities, so they need help. It can be 24/7 medical care or a counselling service. The GAF scoring system allows their doctor to determine the level of help needed for treatment. A standard pre-structured criterion allows the doctor to discuss their patient’s mental condition with another specialist doctor via GAF scoring. This allows the other doctor to get an idea of the patient’s medical state immediately.

The two major categories to consider are –

  1. Functioning level in daily life
  2. Mental illness severity

Some of the information used to determine the score includes –

  • Talking
  • Reviewing medical records
  • Interview caretakers or family members
  • Behavioural history review

Even though the scores are numeric the GAF scoring is subjective. It means two professional doctors can determine two different scores. Such an occurrence is rare!

How GAF scores look?

100-91: Superior functioning without any signs of damaging activities

90-81: Minimal symptoms like anxiety before examinations

80-71: Little impairment in school or at the workplace with occasional signs of mental stress

70-61: Mild symptoms like depression or slight insomnia or depression or finding it hard to handle home, occupation or social situations

60-51: Moderate indications like occasional panic attacks or a little challenge in building significant social rapport

50-41: Grave signs like obsessive rituals or suicidal thoughts or will be unable to maintain a job

40-31: Slight impairment in psychosis, communication or both. Major damage noticed in thinking, mood, judgment, family life, work, or school

30-21: Frequent hallucinations or delusions or features impaired judgment. It means unable to work in every area like staying in bed to having no social bonding

20-11: Made suicide attempts, displayed violent behaviour frequently and struggle with communication like incoherent speech or muteness

10-1: Made grave suicidal act with the expectation of death or even attempted to kill others

0: Inadequate information to evaluate the person

Such psychological tools get evolved frequently to help patients get the necessary services. For the injured workers’ compensation claim associated with psychiatric health damage, there will be a need for GAF scores, and you can consult Edward J. Singer Law Firm. They have been handling worker compensation cases for more than 25 years.

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