Clinical UM Guideline

Subject:Neuropsychological Testing
Guideline #:  CG-MED-22Current Effective Date:  10/06/2015
Status:RevisedLast Review Date:  08/06/2015


This document addresses the use of neuropsychological testing, also known as psychometric testing, which refers to a quantitative, comprehensive evaluation of cognitive, motor and behavioral functional abilities related to developmental, degenerative, and acquired brain disorders. This testing may be used to augment a comprehensive medical history and physical examination, as well as a neurological investigation of certain conditions.

Note:  This document does not address testing for psychological/behavioral mental health-related evaluations.
Please see the following documents for information related to testing for behavioral health-related conditions:

Clinical Indications

Medically Necessary:

Neuropsychological testing is considered medically necessary when there is evidence to suggest that the testing results will have a timely and direct impact on the member's treatment plan for any of the following indications:

Note: Repeat testing to track the status of an illness or recovery progress is generally not warranted. 

Clinical conditions which may require the use of neuropsychological testing may include, but are not limited to:

See the Discussion section for further information about what constitutes standardized testing.
Testing requests for medical indications not listed above and for retesting are reviewed on an individual case-by-case basis to determine medical necessity.

Not Medically Necessary:

Neuropsychological testing is considered not medically necessary when the criteria outlined above are not met, including, but not limited to:


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.

96116Neurobehavioral status exam (clinical assessment of thinking, reasoning and judgment, eg, acquired knowledge, attention, language, memory, planning and problem solving, and visual spatial abilities), per hour of the psychologist's or physician's time, both face-to-face time with the patient and time interpreting test results and preparing the report
96118Neuropsychological testing (eg, Halstead-Reitan Neuropsychological Battery, Wechsler Memory Scales and Wisconsin Card Sorting Test), per hour of the psychologist's or physician's time, both face-to-face time with the patient and time interpreting test results and preparing the report
96119Neuropsychological testing (eg, Halstead-Reitan Neuropsychological Battery, Wechsler Memory Scales and Wisconsin Card Sorting Test), with qualified health care professional interpretation and report, administered by technician, per hour of technician time, face-to-face
96120Neuropsychological testing (eg, Wisconsin Card Sorting Test), administered by a computer, with qualified health care professional interpretation and report
ICD-10 Diagnosis[For dates of service on or after 10/01/2015]
 All diagnoses
ICD-9 Diagnosis[For dates of service prior to 10/01/2015]
 All diagnoses
Discussion/General Information

The selection of specific tests and the timing of administration should be determined by the provider.  Standardized neuropsychological tests rely on published national normative data and include established standardized or scaled scoring ranges.  The duration of testing tends to vary based on the goal of the evaluation, the health and individual indications for testing and the age of the person being evaluated (Sweet, 2011).  Testing for clinical reasons tends to be briefer than testing for educational and forensic purposes.  A complete evaluation for clinical purposes, including any pre-testing examination, can usually be completed in 8 hours or less, sometimes in as few as 2-3 hours, however, in certain conditions more time may be needed when evaluating more complex cases.  Test choice should be customized to the individual's deficits and will be based on multiple factors including, but not limited to:

Neuropsychological testing is typically a comprehensive battery of tests to assess multiple cognitive domains, such as intelligence, learning ability, motor function, memory, reasoning, receptive and expressive language skills, etc.  Individual tests can sample multiple domains.  An example of such a test is the NEPSY,® (which stands for A Developmental NEuroPSYchological Assessment).  This developmental neuropsychological assessment is also sensitive to child development milestones.  Other tests may be specific to 1-2 domains.  The Weschler Intelligence Scale for Children® tests for intelligence, and the Rey-Osterrieth Complex Figure Test and the Meyers and Meyers Recognition Trial (RCFT) assesses visuospatial construction skills and memory.

The value of neuropsychological testing is dependent upon the cooperation and effort of the individual being tested. Testing should be considered only after appropriate assessment and optimal treatment of any factor that would affect cooperation and effort. Examples of these include: medication effects, alcohol or other substance abuse, and mood disorders. Neuropsychological testing can be a critical element in the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of disorders. The purpose of testing must be to help establish the diagnosis and to develop a treatment plan when the diagnosis or treatment plan cannot be determined based on available information from one or more comprehensive medical or behavioral health evaluations with the affected individual and appropriate ancillary information sources (for example, family members, health care providers, school records).

Standardized testing should be based on national normative data which includes scoring and results in standardized or scaled scores and the provider's assessments, recommendations and reports, which are based on techniques sufficient to provide substantiation for findings. An individualized test battery is employed and tailored to the specific referral question and individual member needs. Brief screening instruments and standardized questionnaires, which are administered by computer or those not requiring face-to-face administration, are not considered to be neuropsychological testing, but can be done as part of a professional visit. This is not to exclude the use of certain screening instruments when included as part of a more comprehensive neuropsychological assessment battery.

Regarding Attention Deficit Disorder (AD) with or without Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD), a diagnosis is typically confirmed with the use of full clinical and psychosocial assessments, individual clinical/psychosocial history, results of standardized rating scales and observational data from family members, teachers, etc.  According to the updated Clinical Guideline 72 from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Diagnosis and Management of ADHD in Children, Young People and Adults:

ADHD is a heterogeneous behavioral syndrome characterized by the core symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention. While these symptoms tend to cluster together, some people are predominantly hyperactive and impulsive, while others are principally inattentive. Two main diagnostic criteria are in current use – the International Classification of Mental and Behavioral Disorders, 10th revision (ICD-10) and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5).

Current published evidence and specialty society recommendations do not support the widespread use of neuropsychological testing in the diagnostic evaluation of suspected AD/HD in children or adults.  Further research is needed to better define the role of neuropsychological testing in AD/HD (Haavik, 2010; Kovner, 1998; Pineda, 2007; Pliszka, 2007; Weiss, 2003).

In 2010, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published a clinical report regarding sport-related concussion in children and adolescents.  This report notes that neuropsychological testing can be helpful to provide objective data to athletes and their families after a concussion (which is also referred to as mild traumatic brain injury [mTBI]).  The report states, "Neuropsychological testing is one tool in the complete management of a sport-related concussion and alone does not make a diagnosis or determine when return to play is appropriate."  The report also comments that further research is needed to determine the optimum time and protocol for testing (Halstead, 2010).

Neuropsychological testing is to be performed by clinicians, (for example, physicians, psychologists) appropriately trained to perform and interpret test results, when this type of testing evaluation falls within their scope of professional practice.


Peer Reviewed Publications:

  1. Adler LA, Newcorn JH. The impact, identification, and management of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in adults. Introduction. CNS Spectr. 2007; 12(12 Suppl 23):1-2.
  2. Banks ME. The role of neuropsychological testing and evaluation: when to refer. Adolesc Med. 2002; 13(3):643-662.
  3. Bidwell LC, Willcutt EG, Defries JC, Pennington BF. Testing for neuropsychological endophenotypes in siblings discordant for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Biol Psychiatry. 2007; 62(9):991-998.
  4. Binder LM, Campbell KA. Medically unexplained symptoms and neuropsychological assessment. J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 2004; 26(3):369-392.
  5. Boake C, Millis SR, High WM Jr, et al. Using early neuropsychologic testing to predict long-term productivity outcome from traumatic brain injury. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2001; 82(6):761-768.
  6. Claypoole KH, Noonan C, Mahurin RK, et al. A twin study of cognitive function in chronic fatigue syndrome: the effects of sudden illness onset. Neuropsychology. 2007; 21(4):507-513.
  7. Dige N, Wik G. Adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder identified by neuropsychological testing. Int J Neurosci. 2005; 115(2):169-183.
  8. Feifel D. Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in adults. Postgrad Med. 1996; 100(3):207-211, 215-218.
  9. Goldberg E, Bougakov D. Neuropsychologic assessment of frontal lobe dysfunction.  Psychiatr Clin N Am. 2005; 28(3):567-580.
  10. Goldstein MA, Silverman ME. Neuropsychiatric assessment. Psychiatr Clin North Am. 2005; 28(3):507-547.
  11. Haavik J, Halmøy A, Lundervold AJ, Fasmer OB. Clinical assessment and diagnosis of adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Expert Rev Neurother. 2010; 10(10):1569-1580.
  12. Korkman M, Peltomaa K. A pattern of test findings predicting attention problems at school. J Abnorm Child Psychol. 1991; 19(4):451-467.
  13. Kovner R, Budman C, Frank Y, et al. Neuropsychological testing in adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: a pilot study. Int J Neurosci. 1998; 96(3-4):225-235.
  14. Palumbo D, Lynch PA. Psychological testing in adolescent medicine. Adolesc Med Clin. 2006; 17(1):147-164.
  15. Pineda DA, Puerta IC, Aguirre DC, et al. The role of neuropsychologic tests in the diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Pediatr Neurol. 2007; 36(6):373-381.
  16. Post RE, Kurlansik SL. Diagnosis and management of adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.  Am Fam Physician. 2012; 85(9):890-896.
  17. Sachdev PS, Brodaty H, Valenzuela MJ, et al. The neuropsychological profile of vascular cognitive impairment in stroke and TIA patients. Neurology. 2004; 62(6):912-919.
  18. Trollor JN. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in adults: conceptual and clinical issues. Med J Aust. 1999; 171(8):421-425.
  19. Tucha L, Tucha O, Laufkötter R, et al. Neuropsychological assessment of attention in adults with different subtypes of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. J Neural Transm. 2008;115(2):269-278.
  20. Weiss M, Murray C. Assessment and management of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in adults. CMAJ. 2003; 168(6):715-722.
  21. Wild K, Howieson D, Webbe F, et al. Status of computerized cognitive testing in aging: a systematic review. Alzheimers Dement. 2008; 4(6):428-437.

Government Agency, Medical Society, and Other Authoritative Publications:

  1. American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP). ADHD - A Guide for Families. Attention    deficit/hyperactivity. Copyright ©2010 - American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry. Available at: Accessed on July 20, 2015.
  2. American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). ADHD: clinical practice guideline: for the diagnosis evaluation, and treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children and adolescents. Pediatrics. 2011; 128(5):1007-1022. Available at: Accessed on July 20, 2015. 
  3. American Psychiatric Association.  Policies and Clinical Resources. 2014. Available at: Accessed on July 20, 2015.
  4. American Psychiatric Association. Practice guideline for the psychiatric evaluation of adults. Second Edition. June 2006. Available at: on July 20, 2015.
  5. American Psychological Association. Guidelines for psychological practice with older adults. May-June, 2004.  Available at: Accessed on July 20, 2015.
  6. American Psychological Association. Presidential Task Force on the Assessment of Age-Consistent Memory Decline and Dementia. Guidelines for the evaluation of dementia and age-related cognitive decline. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Updated January 2012. Available at: Accessed on July 20, 2015.
  7. Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services (CMS). Wisconsin Physicians Service Insurance Corporation. Local Coverage Determination (LCD): Psychological and neuropsychological testing (L31990). Effective February 1, 2014. Available at:*1&Cntrctr=265&name=
    Wisconsin+Physicians+Service+Insurance+Corporation+(08102%2c+MAC+-+Part+B)&s=20&DocType=Active&bc=AggAAAIAAAAAAA%3d%3d&#. Accessed on July 20, 2015.
  8. Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services (CMS). First Coast Service Options, Inc. Local Coverage Determination for Psychological and Neuropsychological Testing (L33688). Revised 02/01/2014. Available at: Accessed on July 20, 2015.
  9. Children's Oncology Group, National Cancer Institute (NCI). Neuropsychological and behavioral testing in young patients with cancer. October 14, 2008; NCT00772200. Last updated August 25, 2014. Available at: Accessed on July 20, 2015.
  10. Cushman JG, Agarwal N, Fabian TC, et al.; Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma (EAST) Practice Management Guidelines Work Group. Practice management guidelines for the management of mild traumatic brain injury.  Winston-Salem, NC. 2000. Available at: Accessed on July 20, 2015.
  11. Filipek PA, Accardo PJ, Ashwal S, et al. Practice parameter: screening and diagnosis of autism: report of the Quality Standards Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology and the Child Neurology Society. Neurology. 2000; 55(4):468-479.
  12. Gallagher R, Blader J. The diagnosis and neuropsychological assessment of adult attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Scientific study and practical guidelines. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2001; 931:148-171.
  13. Halstead ME, Walter KD.; Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness. American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Clinical report--sport-related concussion in children and adolescents. Pediatrics. 2010; 126(3):597-615.
  14. Knopman DS, DeKosky ST, Cummings JL, et al. American Academy of Neurology (AAN). Practice parameter:  diagnosis of dementia (an evidence-based review). Report of the Quality Standards Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology. Neurology. 2001; 56(9):1143-1153. Available at: Accessed on July 20, 2015.
  15. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). NICE Clinical Guideline 72. Developed by the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Diagnosis and management of ADHD in children, young people and adults. September 2008; modified July 2014. Available at: Accessed on July 20, 2015.
  16. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). NICE Clinical Guideline 137. The epilepsies: the diagnosis and management of the epilepsies in adults and children in primary and secondary care. January 2012.  Available at: Accessed on July 20, 2015.
  17. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). NICE Clinical Guideline 42. Dementia: Supporting people with dementia and their carers in health and social care. November 2006; last modified October 2012. Available at: Accessed on July 20, 2015.
  18. Petersen RC, Stevens JC, Ganguli M, et al.  Practice parameter: early detection of dementia; mild cognitive impairment (an evidence-based review). Report of the Quality Standards Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology. Neurology. 2001; 56(9):1133-1142.
  19. Pliszka S,; AACAP Work Group on Quality Issues. American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP). Practice parameter for the assessment and treatment of children and adolescents with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2007; 46(7):894-921.
  20. Randolph C, Hilsabeck R, Kato A, et al.; International Society for Hepatic Encephalopathy and Nitrogen Metabolism (ISHEN). Neuropsychological assessment of hepatic encephalopathy: ISHEN practice guidelines. Liver Int. 2009; 29(5):629-635.
  21. Rappley MD. Clinical practice. Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder. N Engl J Med. 2005; 352(2):165-173.
  22. Sweet JJ, Meyer DG, Nelson NW, Moberg PJ. The TCN/AACN 2010 "salary survey": professional practices, beliefs, and incomes of U.S. neuropsychologists. Clin Neuropsych. 2011; 25(1):12-61.
  23. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). Recommendation for Screening for Cognitive Impairment in Older Adults. March 2014. Available at: Accessed on July 20, 2015.
  24. Volkmar F, Cook EH Jr, Pomeroy J, et al. Practice parameters for the assessment and treatment of children, adolescents, and adults with autism and other pervasive developmental disorders. American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Working Group on Quality Issues. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1999; 38(12 Suppl):32S-54S.
Websites for Additional Information
  1. National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI). Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). May, 2003.  Available at: Accessed on July 20, 2015.
  2. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Last reviewed: October 4, 2010. Available at: Accessed on July 20, 2015.

Neuropsychological Testing
Psychometric testing

The use of specific product names is illustrative only. It is not intended to be a recommendation of one product over another, and is not intended to represent a complete listing of all products available.

Revised08/06/2015Medical Policy & Technology Assessment Committee (MPTAC) review.
Revised07/31/2015Behavioral Health Subcommittee review. The information about what constitutes Standardized Testing was revised for clarification and alignment with CG-BEH-07 Psychological Testing and was added to the Discussion section.  Also the medically necessary statement was revised to indicate when test results are expected to have a timely and direct impact on the treatment plan. References were updated.
Revised02/05/2015MPTAC review.
Revised01/30/2015Behavioral Health Subcommittee review. Two additional notes were added to the Clinical Indications section regarding which types of testing are considered to be neuropsychological testing. The Discussion section and References were updated.
Reviewed08/14/2014MPTAC review.
Reviewed08/08/2014Behavioral Health Subcommittee review.  References and Websites sections were updated.
Reviewed08/08/2013MPTAC review.  No further revisions to criteria.  The Discussion section was updated.
Reviewed07/26/2013Behavioral Health Subcommittee review.
Revised05/09/2013MPTAC review.  Evaluation of AD/HD has been added to the not medically necessary indications for testing.  Discussion section and References were updated.
Reviewed08/09/2012MPTAC review.  Discussion section and References were updated.
Reviewed08/18/2011MPTAC review.  Coding and References were updated.
Reviewed08/19/2010MPTAC review.  References were updated.
Reviewed08/27/2009MPTAC review.  References were updated.
Reviewed08/28/2008MPTAC review.  References were updated.
Reviewed08/23/2007MPTAC review.  References were updated.  Coding updated; removed CPT 96115, 96117 deleted 12/31/2005.
Reviewed09/14/2006MPTAC review.  References were updated.
 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 DateDocument NumberTitle

Anthem, Inc.

Anthem BCBS NHDraftLocal Region UM DocumentNeuropsychological Testing
Anthem BCBS West Region08/12/2004Local Region UM Document UMR.002Neuropsychological Testing
WellPoint Health Networks, Inc.09/23/2004Clinical Guideline           Neuropsychological Testing