MIG Update – August 9, 2021
Psych – Symptom Magnification
In this edition, we report on two contrasting cases where there were concerns of psychological symptom magnification. In the “escape” case, despite both psychologists taking note of the possibility of malingering, we discuss what factor compelled the Tribunal to rule in favour of the Applicant.
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Factor: Symptom Magnification
In Allaham v Coseco (19-008731), a November 2016 loss, Allaham submitted that his pre-existing psychological condition was worsened as a result of the accident. In May 2018, Allaham was diagnosed by his psychologist with post-traumatic stress disorder, other specified anxiety disorder, specifically features of Social Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder and Health Anxiety. Allaham’s treating psychologist noted that the diagnoses appear to have existed pre-accident, although the symptoms worsened following his 2016 accident.
The Respondent’s psychological assessment in October 2018 found no evidence of psychological impairment and no basis for the diagnoses reached in Allaham’s psychological reports. The psychologist opined that Allaham is “feigning a psychological impairment(s) for reasons only known to him. His symptom exaggeration does not make it possible to identify a psychological impairment…”
‘MIG escape’ – The Tribunal’s findings:
- Two competing opinions each considered the possibility of malingering
- Allaham’s assessor was upfront about the possibility of a validity concern with Allaham’s responses and put more weight on evidence from Allaham’s past and current life
- The Respondent’s assessor did not consider Allaham’s past and current daily impairments, and the medical evidence of his treating family doctor
- Allaham’s childhood abuse was glossed over by the Respondent’s assessor
- The fact that Allaham incurred the cost of a psychological treatment was found to be a compelling indication that his concerns are legitimate and are genuinely affecting him
In K.S. v. Aviva (18-009024), a April 2017 loss, K.S. relied on a psychological report dated September 2017 where he was diagnosed by his psychologist with Adjustment Disorder with Mixed Anxiety and Depressed Mood and Specific Phobia.
The Respondent relied on its IEs dated October 2017 which indicate that K.S’s subjective self-reporting responses to the psychometric measures do not support a diagnosis of Adjustment Disorder with Anxiety and Depressed Mood, because his atypical responses were indicative of someone feigning psychological impairment.
‘MIG hold’ – The Tribunal’s findings:
- K.S.’s self-reporting of his health conditions to his doctors was contradictory.”
- K.S.’s visits to his family doctor around the time he was assessed by his own psychologist, contain no mention of psychological issues; K.S. reported being ready to return to work
- The contradictory assertions are supportive of the IE’s observations that K.S.’s answers were atypical responses indicative of feigning psychological impairment
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