Chafetz Named Outstanding 2019 Tulane Alumnus

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The Tulane School of Science and Engineering has named Dr. Michael Chafetz for its prestigious Outstanding Alumni Award for 2019, announced last month by Dean Kimberly Foster and program director Candise Guedry. The selection was made by the Science & Engineering Board of Advisors Alumni Awards Committee, chaired by the Science & Engineering Board President Shep Perrin.

The alumni awards ceremony will be held on Thursday April 4, 6 PM – 8 PM in the Lavin-Bernick Center for University Life.

Michael Chafetz, PhD, ABPP, is principal and director of Algiers Neurobehavioral Resource, LLC. His research and clinical activities involve forensic matters, and he is frequently asked to provide neuropsychological expertise in state and federal courts in Louisiana and Texas. He has provided neuropsychological expertise in over a dozen capital cases, several other criminal cases, and in highly contested civil litigation matters.

Chafetz’s research has focused on the use of validity instruments in low IQ individuals and has led to numerous forensic publications in neuropsychology, forensic psychology, and child abuse journals. His book  Intellectual Disability: Criminal and Civil Forensic Issues was published in 2015 by Oxford University Press in the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology Workshop Series. This book has been used by neuropsychology colleagues across the country who have testified in capital cases involving validity issues in low IQ individuals.

His research came to the attention of U.S. Senator Tom Coburn in 2012, and Dr. Chafetz consulted with a senior staff member on Senator Coburn’s 2013 letter to then Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue on the need to provide more accurate psychological assessment in Social Security Disability cases. The Chafetz research had shown that a high proportion of Social Security Disability claimants were feigning impairments. Through specific comparisons, it had become clear that the low IQ Social Security claimants who had failed validity tests were not false-positives who had been mislabeled as feigners, as similarly low IQ individuals motivated to appear normal easily passed these same tests. Senator Coburn was especially concerned that the Social Security Administration (SSA) had removed the use of these validity tests from the disability arena.

In their Congressional Response in September 2013, the Office of the Inspector General for Social Security affirmed the Coburn letter, essentially saying that it would be wise for SSA to further evaluate their policy on the use of validity testing in disability cases. This prompted SSA to call for an Institute of Medicine (IOM) committee to study the problem. The IOM published their favorable statement on the use of validity testing for SSA disability cases in 2015, the same year that Chafetz was the lead author on an American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology sponsored paper giving guidance to SSA on the same topic.

Dr. Chafetz is a Fellow at the National Academy of Neuropsychology. He served on the Board of the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology from 20122017. He was the 2012 Distinguished Psychologist for the Louisiana Psychological Association and the 2018 LPA awardee of the Contributions to Psychological Science award. He provided consultation and expertise for the Association of Administrative Law Judges in their Grievance against SSA in 2016. Through his work on illness-deception, he has been invited to speak at various state psychological associations, APA, NAN, AACN, administrative law judge conferences, and internationally at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.

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