What is a GAF Score?

When it comes to a PTSD rating, many Veterans are not aware that their GAF score plays an important part in how the VA decides their claim. You may be asking, “What is a GAF Score?” While a GAF Score can be somewhat complicated to assess, the explanation of what it means is actually quite simple.

GAF stands for Global Assessment of Functioning Scale. The GAF Scale is utilized by a clinician to measure a Veteran’s overall level of functioning and his/her ability to carry out activities of daily living and functioning. This information is useful in planning treatment, measuring its impact, and predicting conclusion.

The Global Assessment of Functioning Scale is a 100-point scale that measures a Veteran’s overall level of psychological, social, and occupational functioning on a hypothetical continuum, with 100 measuring very minimal limits to daily functioning and 0 indicating that the individual is having severe difficult with daily activities and functions.

The scale below illustrates what is typical in each range along the scale. This scale was provided By Michigan State University:

100-91 Superior functioning in a wide range of activities, life’s problems never seem to get out of hand, is sought out by others because of his or her many positive qualities. No symptoms.

90-81 Absent or minimal symptoms (e.g., mild anxiety before an exam), good functioning in all areas, interested and involved in a wide range of activities. Socially effective, generally satisfied with life, no more than everyday problems or concerns (e.g., an occasional argument with family members).

80-71 If symptoms are present, they are transient and expectable reactions to psychosocial stressors (e.g., difficulty concentrating after family argument); no more than slight impairment in social, occupational or school functioning (e.g., temporarily failing behind in schoolwork).

70-61 Some mild symptoms (e.g. depressed mood and mild insomnia) OR some difficulty in social, occupational, or school functioning (e.g., occasional truancy, or theft within the household), but generally functioning pretty well, has some meaningful interpersonal relationships.

60-51 Moderate symptoms (e.g., flat affect and circumstantial speech, occasional panic attacks) OR moderate difficulty in social, occupational, or school functioning (e.g.. few friends, conflicts with peers or co-workers).

50-41 Serious symptoms (e.g.. suicidal ideation, severe obsessional rituals, frequent shoplifting) OR any serious impairment in social, occupational, or school functioning (e.g., no friends, unable to keep a job).

40-31 Some impairment in reality testing or communication (e.g., speech is at times illogical, obscure, or irrelevant) OR major impairment in several areas, such as work or school, family relations, judgment, thinking, or mood (e.g., depressed man avoids friends, neglects family, and is unable to work; child frequently beats up younger children, is defiant at home, and is failing at school).

30-21 Behavior is considerably influenced by delusions or hallucinations OR serious impairment in communication or judgment (e.g., sometimes incoherent, acts grossly inappropriately, suicidal preoccupation) OR inability to function in almost all areas (e.g., stays in bed all day; no job, home, or friends).

20-11 Some danger of hurting self or others (e.g., suicide attempts without clear expectation of death; frequently violent; manic excitement)  OR occasionally fails to maintain minimal personal hygiene (e.g., smears feces) OR gross impairment in communication (e.g., largely incoherent or mute).

10-1 Persistent danger of severely hurting self or others (e.g., recurrent violence) OR persistent inability to maintain minimal personal hygiene OR serious suicidal act with clear expectation of death.

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