Clinical UM Guideline

Subject:Speech-Language Pathology Services
Guideline #:  CG-REHAB-06Current Effective Date:  04/15/2014
Status:ReviewedLast Review Date:  02/13/2014


Speech-language pathology (SLP) services provide for the identification, assessment and treatment of speech, language and swallowing disorders in children and adults. Therapy facilitates the development or rehabilitation of functional communication or swallowing.

Speech therapy covers a wide range of services for all ages, from birth to very old age, and is provided in schools, hospitals, home care, rehabilitation centers, and nursing homes. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) work with individuals who have physical or cognitive deficits/disorders resulting in difficulty communicating. Communication includes speech (articulation, voice, linguistics) and language (phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, both receptive and expressive language, including reading and writing). SLPs treat acquired reading and writing impairments in adults and children who have previously learned how to read and write and are diagnosed with neurologic impairments. SLP also provide services for individuals with dysphagia (difficulty swallowing).

Note: Many benefit plans include a maximum allowable speech therapy benefit, either in duration of treatment or in number of visits. When the maximum allowable benefit is exhausted, coverage will no longer be provided even if the medical necessity criteria described below are met.

Note: Please see the following related documents for additional information:

Clinical Indications

Medically Necessary:

Speech-language pathology (SLP) services are considered medically necessary when ALL of the following criteria are met:

  1. The services are used in the treatment of communication impairment or swallowing disorders resulting from illness, injury, surgery, or congenital abnormality; AND
  2. Based on a plan of care, the therapy sessions achieve a specific diagnosis-related goal for a individual who has a reasonable expectation of achieving measurable significant functional improvement in a reasonable and predictable period of time [i.e., medical necessity continues until progress is no longer being made (each three to six month period) or the individual has attained the previous level of competency]; AND
  3. The therapy sessions provide specific, effective, and reasonable treatment for the individual's diagnosis and physical condition; AND
  4. The services are delivered by a qualified provider of speech therapy services. A qualified provider is one who is licensed, where required, or holds the Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) granted by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), and performs within the scope of licensure; AND
  5. The services require the judgment, knowledge, and skills of a qualified provider of speech therapy services due to the complexity and sophistication of the therapy and the medical condition of the individual.


A comprehensive evaluation is essential to determine if SLP services are medically necessary, gather baseline data, establish a treatment plan, and develop goals based on the data. The initial evaluation is usually completed in one to three sessions. An evaluation is needed before implementing any SLP treatment. Evaluation begins with the administration of appropriate and relevant assessments using standardized assessments and tools. The evaluation must include:

Treatment Sessions
A speech language pathology treatment session is usually defined as thirty minutes to one hour of speech therapy on any given day, depending on the age and diagnosis and ability to sustain attention for therapy. Treatment sessions for more than one hour per day may be medically appropriate for inpatient acute settings, day treatment programs, and select outpatient situations, but must be supported in the treatment plan and based on an individual's medical condition. These services may include:

Documentation of treatment sessions must include:

Progress Reports
In order to reflect that continued SLP services are medically necessary, intermittent progress reports must demonstrate that the individual is making functional progress. Progress reports should meet the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) standards, which include at a minimum:

A re-evaluation is usually indicated when there are new significant clinical findings, a rapid change in the individual's status, or failure to respond to SLP interventions. There are several routine re-assessments that are not considered re-evaluations. These include ongoing re-assessments that are part of each skilled treatment session, progress reports, and discharge summaries. 

Re-evaluation is a more comprehensive assessment that includes all the components of the initial evaluation, such as:

Providers of SLP Services

The services are delivered by a qualified provider who holds the appropriate credentials in speech-language pathology; has pertinent training and experience; and is certified, licensed, or otherwise regulated by the State or Federal governments. Assistants may provide services under the direction and supervision of a speech language pathologist. These qualified professionals are also regulated by the State and Federal governments.

Aides, athletic trainers, exercise physiologists, life skills trainers, and rehabilitation technicians do not meet the definition of a qualified practitioner regardless of the level of supervision. Aides and other nonqualified personnel as listed above are limited to non-skilled services such as preparing the individual, treatment area, equipment, or supplies; assisting a qualified therapist or assistant; and transporting individuals. They may not provide any direct treatments, modalities, or procedures.

Not Medically Necessary:

Speech-language pathology (SLP) services are considered not medically necessary if any of the following is determined:

  1. The therapy is for the correction of a speech, language, or swallowing impairment other than that resulting from illness, injury, surgery or congenital abnormality.
  2. The therapy is for dysfunctions that are self-correcting, such as:
    • Language therapy for young children with natural dysfluency; or
    • Developmental articulation errors that are self-correcting.
  3. The therapy is considered primarily educational.
  4. The expectation does not exist that the speech therapy will result in a practical improvement in the level of functioning within a reasonable and predictable period of time. [i.e., progress is no longer being made (in a three to six month period) or the individual has attained the previous level of competency].
  5. Services that do not require the skills of a qualified provider of ST services including, but not limited to, the following:
    • Treatments that maintain function using routine, repetitious, or reinforced procedures that are neither diagnostic nor therapeutic (e.g., practicing word drills for developmental articulation errors);
    • Procedures that may be carried out effectively by the individual, family, or caregivers.
  6. Routine reevaluations -not meeting the above criteria.
  7. Treatments that not supported in peer-reviewed literature.

Duplicate Therapy
Duplicate therapy is considered not medically necessary. When individuals receive physical, occupational, or speech therapy, the therapists should provide different treatments that reflect each therapy discipline's unique perspective on the individual's impairments and functional deficits and not duplicate the same treatment. They must also have separate evaluations, treatment plans, and goals.

Maintenance Program
Maintenance programs are considered not medically necessary. A maintenance therapy program consists of drills, techniques, and exercises that preserve the individual's present level of communication/swallowing function and prevent regression of that function. Maintenance begins when the therapeutic goals of a treatment plan have been achieved and when no further consistent functional progress is apparent or expected to occur. In certain circumstances, the specialized knowledge and judgment of a qualified therapist maybe required to establish a maintenance program, however, the repetitive SLP services to maintain a level would be considered not medically necessary.


The following codes for treatments and procedures applicable to this document are included below for informational purposes.  Inclusion or exclusion of a procedure, diagnosis or device code(s) does not constitute or imply member coverage or provider reimbursement policy. Please refer to the member's contract benefits in effect at the time of service to determine coverage or non-coverage of these services as it applies to an individual member.

92507Treatment of speech, language, voice, communication, and/or auditory processing disorder; individual
92508Treatment of speech, language, voice, communication, and/or auditory processing disorder; group, 2 or more individuals
92521Evaluation of speech fluency (eg, stuttering, cluttering)
92522Evaluation of speech sound production (eg, articulation, phonological process, apraxia, dysarthria);
92523Evaluation of speech sound production (eg, articulation, phonological process, apraxia, dysarthria); with evaluation of language comprehension and expression (eg, receptive and expressive language)
92524Behavioral and qualitative analysis of voice and resonance
92526Treatment of swallowing dysfunction and/or oral function for feeding
92610Evaluation of oral and pharyngeal swallowing function
92611Motion fluoroscopic evaluation of swallowing function by cine or video recording
92626-92627Evaluation of auditory rehabilitation status [includes codes 92626, 92627]
92630Auditory rehabilitation; prelingual hearing loss
92633Auditory rehabilitation; postlingual hearing loss
G0153Services performed by a qualified speech-language pathologist in the home health or hospice setting, each 15 minutes
G0161Services performed by a qualified speech-language pathologist, in the home health setting, in the establishment or delivery of a safe effective therapy maintenance program, each 15 minutes
S9128Speech therapy, in the home, per diem
S9152Speech therapy, re-evaluation
V5362Speech screening
V5363Language screening
V5364Dysphagia screening
ICD-9 Diagnosis[For dates of service prior to 10/01/2014]
 All diagnoses
ICD-10 Diagnosis[For dates of service on or after 10/01/2014]
 All diagnoses
Discussion/General Information

Approximately 42 million people (1 in 6) in the United States have some type of communication disorder. Of these, 28 million have communication disorders associated with hearing loss, and 14 million have disorders of speech, voice, or language not associated with hearing loss.


Peer Reviewed Publications:

  1. Baille MF, Arnaud C, Cans C, et al. Prevalence, etiology, and care of severe and profound hearing loss. Arch Dis Child. 1996; 75(2):129-132.
  2. Enderby P, Emerson J. Speech and language therapy: does it work? BMJ. 1996; 312(7047):1655-1658.
  3. Glade MJ. Diagnostic and therapeutic technology assessment: speech therapy in patients with a prior history of recurrent or chronic otitis media with effusion. Amer Med Assoc. Jan 5, 1996.
  4. Lancer JM, Syder D, Jones AS, et al. The outcome of different management patterns for vocal cord nodules. J Laryngol Otol. 1988; 102(5):423-427.
  5. Lewis BA, Freebairn L. Residual effects of preschool phonology disorders in grade school, adolescence, and adulthood. J Speech Hear Res. 1992; 35(4):819-831.
  6. Niskar AS, Kieszak SM, Holmes A, et al. Prevalence of hearing loss among children 6 to 19 years of age: the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. JAMA. 1998; 279(14):1071-1075.
  7. Scarborough HS, Dobrich W. Development of children with early language delay. J Speech Hear Res. 1990; 33(1):70-83.
  8. Shriberg LD, Aram DM, Kwiatlowski J. Developmental apraxia of speech: I. Descriptive and theoretical perspectives. J Speech Lang Hear Res. 1997; 40(2):273-285.
  9. Sneed RC, May WL, Stencel C. Physicians' reliance on specialists, therapists, and vendors when prescribing therapies and durable medical equipment for children with special health care needs. Am Acad Pediatr. 2001; 107(6):1283-1290.
  10. Sommers RK, Logsdon BS, Wright JM. A review and critical analysis of treatment research related to articulation and phonological disorders. J Commun Disord. 1992; 25(1):3-22.
  11. Wambaugh JL, Kalinyak-Fliszar MM, West JE, Doyle PJ. Effects of treatment for sound errors in apraxia of speech and aphasia. J Speech Lang Hear Res. 1998; 41(4):725-743.
  12. Van Demark DR, Hardin MA. Effectiveness of intensive articulation therapy for children with cleft palate.  Cleft Palate J. 1986; 23(3):215-224.

Government Agency, Medical Society, and Other Authoritative Publications:

  1. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Roles of speech-language pathologists in the identification, diagnosis, and treatment of individuals with cognitive-communication disorders: Position Statement (2005). Available at: Accessed on January 07, 2014.
  2. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Coverage Issues Manual. Pub 6. Available at: . Accessed January 07, 2014.
  3. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Pub. 100-02, Chapter 15, Sections 220. Coverage of Outpatient Rehabilitation Therapy Services (Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech-Language Pathology Services) Under Medical Insurance and Section 230. Practice of Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech-Language Pathology. January 7, 2014. Available at Accessed on January 7, 2014.
  4. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Manual. Available at: Accessed on January 7, 2014.
    • Home Health Agency Manual. Pub 11. Effective September 8, 2005.
    • Hospital Manual. Pub 10. Effective September 8, 2005.
  5. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. National Coverage Determination. Available at: Accessed on January 7, 2014.
    • Institutional and Home Care Patient Education Programs. NCD#170.1. Effective date not posted.
    • Speech-Language Pathology Services for the Treatment of Dysphagia. NCD #170.3. Effective October 1, 2006.
Websites for Additional Information
  1. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Aphasia. Available at: Accessed on January 7, 2014.
  2. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Feeding and swallowing disorders (dysphagia) in children. Available at: Accessed on January 7, 2014.
  3. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Oral myofunctional disorders (OMD). Available at: Accessed on January 7, 2014.
  4. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Speech and language disorders and diseases. Available at: Accessed on January 7, 2014.
  5. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Swallowing disorders (dysphagia) in adults. Available at: Accessed on January 7, 2014.
  6. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Typical speech and language development. Available at: Accessed on January 7, 2014.
  7. National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities. Speech and language impairments. Available at: Accessed on January 7, 2014.
  8. National Institute on Deafness and other Communicative Disorders. Aphasia. Updated October 2008. Available at: Accessed on January 7, 2014.
  9. National Institute on Deafness and other Communicative Disorders. Apraxia of Speech. Updated June 2010. Available at: Accessed on January 7, 2014.
  10. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Aphasia information page. Updated July 2012. Available at: Access on January 7, 2014.

Language Therapy (Speech Therapy)
Speech Language Pathology (SLP)
Speech Pathology
Speech Therapy
ST (Speech Therapy)





Reviewed02/13/2014Medical Policy & Technology Assessment Committee (MPTAC) review. Websites updated.
 01/01/2014Updated Coding section with 01/01/2014 CPT changes; removed 92506 deleted 12/31/2013.
Reviewed02/14/2013MPTAC review. References and Websites updated.
Reviewed02/16/2012MPTAC review. References and Websites updated.
Reviewed02/17/2011MPTAC review. Term "and/or" removed from clinical indication criteria section. References and websites updated.
 01/01/2011Updated Coding section with 01/01/2011 HCPCS changes.
Reviewed02/25/2010Medical Policy & Technology Assessment Committee (MPTAC) review. Duration section removed. References updated.
 01/01/2010Updated coding section with 01/01/2010 HCPCS changes.
Reviewed02/26/2009MPTAC review. Removed Place of Service Section. References updated.
Reviewed02/21/2008MPTAC review. Coding section and References updated.
 07/01/2007Updated coding section with 07/01/2007 HCPCS changes.
Reviewed03/08/2007MPTAC review. References and coding updated. Title corrected.
Revised03/23/2006MPTAC review. Clarified "not medically necessary" language regarding developmental delays.
 01/01/2006Updated coding section with 01/01/2006 CPT/HCPCS changes
 11/22/2005Added reference for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) – National Coverage Determination (NCD).
Revised09/22/2005MPTAC review. Revision based on Pre-merger Anthem and Pre-merger WellPoint Harmonization.
Pre-Merger Organizations

Last Review Date

Document Number


Anthem BCBS


RA-009 (Midwest Medical Review & UM criteria)Speech Therapy For NASCO, FEP and ASA
Anthem BCBS


Memo 1101 (S.E. Region)Speech Therapy
WellPoint Health Networks, Inc.


10.01.10Speech Therapy