Top ICD-10 Codes for Speech Therapy (2023)

Jamie Frew
Jamie Frew


Managing a successful speech therapy practice requires a blend of art and science. To provide excellent care, you must put patients at ease, encourage them to participate in their treatment, and give your staff the necessary authority.

While doing so, you must also serve patients effectively to remain at the forefront of your field and keep your business afloat. This is a delicate balancing act, especially when accurate medical billing is crucial to the financial health of the medical practice. You must ensure your claims are accepted on time to keep cash flow where it should be. 

But, if there's one thing you should know to help you increase your claim acceptance rate, it's ICD-10 codes for speech therapy.

In this post, we'll go over ICD-10 codes and the codes you'll most likely use in your speech therapy practice.

What are ICD-10 Codes?

ICD codes are similar to secret codes that help therapists classify speech and language disorders, making it easier to develop individualized treatment plans for patients.

Think of it this way: just as a detective needs clues to solve a mystery, speech therapists need diagnostic tools and procedures to find and treat speech and language disorders. ICD codes are used for this. These alphanumeric codes help speech therapists figure out what the problem is and make a plan for how to treat it.

So, what are ICD codes exactly? Well, they are a standard way for doctors and other health professionals to group diseases, disorders, and other health problems. In speech therapy, ICD codes help find and classify speech and language disorders like stuttering, dysarthria, and apraxia. The same applies to ICD codes for mental health and any other disease.

By using ICD codes, speech therapists can make treatment plans that are unique to each patient and meet their specific needs. For example, suppose a patient is diagnosed with dysarthria, a motor speech disorder. In that case, the therapist can use the corresponding ICD code to identify the disorder and make a treatment plan that focuses on improving the patient's speech clarity, breath support, and oral motor control.

Indeed, the importance of CPT and ICD codes cannot be overstated. Throughout this article, we'll delve deeper into common speech and language disorders and the corresponding ICD codes used to identify them. Believe us when we say it will be an exciting journey!

How Does ICD-10 Apply to Outpatient Speech Therapy Services?

As mentioned previously, healthcare providers use ICD-10 codes to identify and classify various medical conditions, including speech and language disorders. These codes assist speech therapists in accurately diagnosing and treating patients while ensuring that insurance claims are processed correctly.

In outpatient speech therapy, speech therapists classify and identify speech and language disorders using ICD-10 codes. These codes aid in the accurate diagnosis and treatment of patients and provide accurate information for insurance reimbursement. By using the correct ICD-10 codes, speech therapists can communicate the specifics of a patient's diagnosis to insurance companies and ensure that claims are accurately processed.

For example, if a patient is being treated for stuttering, the speech therapist will classify the patient's condition using the ICD-10 code F80.81. This code specifies stuttering as the disorder being treated. If the therapist uses an incorrect or out-of-date code, the insurance company may deny or delay payment, causing frustration and financial hardship for the patient.

It's worth stressing that when diagnosing patients, healthcare professionals must use the correct ICD-10 codes, whether it is ICD codes for speech therapy or ICD codes for anxiety. This guarantees that insurance companies receive accurate information and that patients receive the necessary care. Since speech therapists may use the ICD-10 code system, they must keep up with any updates or changes.

Top ICD 10 Codes for Speech Therapy (2023)

Because of the nature of ICD-10 codes, there are thousands—over 70,000—of diagnosis codes. While your medical biller must be well-versed in the codes that apply to speech therapy, you should become acquainted with the most commonly used codes. Here are the ten most frequently used codes by speech therapists in 2023, along with their descriptions.

F80.0: Phonological Disorder

Code F80.0 describes phonological disorder. When a person has this disorder, it's hard for them to say the right sound for a letter or word. Some examples include:

  • Omitting a sound (saying "pay" instead of "pray")
  • Swapping one sound for another (saying "save" instead of "cave")
  • Adding a sound (saying "beak" instead of "bee")

F80.2: Receptive Language Disorder

This disorder is characterized by difficulty understanding spoken language, including both the meaning of words and the overall message being conveyed. In some instances, this disorder is co-diagnosed with ADHD and autism. The ICD-10 code F80.2 can therefore be used in conjunction with ICD codes for ADHD (e.g., F90.0 for ADHD, predominantly inattentive type, F90.1 for ADHD, predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type, F90.2 for ADHD, combined type) and autism spectrum disorder (e.g., F84.0 for autistic disorder, F84.1 for atypical autism, F84.5 for Asperger syndrome) when applicable.

Symptoms may vary between patients and include:

  • Difficulty following directions
  • Difficulty understanding questions
  • Difficulty understanding conversations or stories
  • Difficulty comprehending abstract language, such as metaphors or idioms
  • Delayed or limited language development
  • Limited vocabulary

F80.4: Speech and Language Development Delay Due To Hearing Loss

This disorder refers to a developmental delay caused by hearing loss in children. Some of the most common symptoms of speech and language development delay due to hearing loss include:

  • Delays in learning new words, especially abstract words and function words like "the" and "a"
  • A challenge in understanding terms with multiple meanings
  • Tendency to use shorter and simpler sentences
  • Speech that is difficult to understand
  • Speaking too loudly or quietly or mumbling 
  • Difficulty with academic achievement, particularly in reading and mathematics
  • Lagging in school by one to four grades on average for children
  • Isolating themselves, especially in social situations

F80.81: Childhood-Onset Fluency Disorder

The patient's cluttering and stuttering characterize this developmental disorder. Symptoms include but are not limited to:

  • Repeating syllables, sounds, or words, such as "b-b-b-ball" or "I-I-I want"
  • Stretching out sounds or syllables, such as "ssssssun" or "lllllet's go".
  • Difficulty initiating or continuing speech, where the person may seem to be "stuck" on a sound or word and may struggle to get it out.
  • Adding extra sounds or words, such as "um" or "like," or using fillers like "you know" or "uh" to help get words out.
  • Showing signs of physical tension or effort when speaking, such as facial grimaces, eye blinks, or body movements.
  • Avoiding speaking situations or words that are challenging, which can lead to social anxiety or isolation.

R13.11: Dysphagia, Oral Phase

This swallowing disorder affects the ability to move liquid or food from the mouth to the throat. Symptoms include:

  • Coughing or choking while eating or drinking
  • Difficulty starting a swallow
  • Difficulty controlling liquid or food in the mouth
  • Drooling
  • Pocketing liquid or food on the cheeks
  • Prolonged chewing or meal times
  • A sensation of liquid or food sticking in the throat or chest
  • Regurgitation of liquid or food
  • Gagging or vomiting during or after drinking or eating

R13.12: Dysphagia, Oropharyngeal Phase

This swallowing disorder affects the ability to move liquid or food through the back of the mouth and into the throat. Symptoms are similar to those seen in the oral phase of dysphagia and include:

  • Coughing or choking during or after swallowing
  • Difficulty initiating a swallow
  • A sensation of liquid or food sticking in the throat or chest
  • Regurgitation of liquid or food
  • Gagging or vomiting during or after drinking or eating
  • A "wet" or gurgling-sounding voice during or after drinking or eating
  • Nasal regurgitation of liquid or food
  • Difficulty controlling liquid or food in the mouth
  • Prolonged meal times or avoidance of certain foods

R47.1: Dysarthria and Anarthria

These speech disorders affect a person's ability to produce speech sounds or articulate words. Some common symptoms of dysarthria and anarthria may include the following:

  • Slurred or mumbled speech
  • Slow or rapid speech rate
  • Monotone or robotic speech
  • Difficulty controlling the volume or pitch of speech
  • Nasal-sounding or breathy voice quality
  • Drooling or difficulty swallowing
  • Tongue, lip, or jaw weakness or tremors
  • Inability to produce any speech sounds (anarthria)

R48.2: Apraxia

Apraxia is a neurological disorder that affects a person's ability to plan and execute voluntary movements, including speech. Symptoms of apraxia can vary depending on the severity of the condition and the individual affected, but some common symptoms may include the following:

  • Difficulty planning and coordinating the movements necessary for speech or other motor tasks, such as brushing their teeth or tying their shoes
  • Errors in speech or motor movements may vary from one attempt to the next and may not be predictable
  • Struggle to imitate speech sounds, even if they can produce them independently
  • Speech may be slow or effortful, with pauses or hesitations between words or sounds
  • Difficulty using appropriate intonation and stress patterns in speech
  • Repeated attempts to produce a sound or movement, sometimes with a "groping" or trial-and-error quality

R48.8: Other Symbolic Dysfunctions

This is a broad category that includes various communication disorders. The symptoms of symbolic dysfunctions can vary widely depending on the underlying condition but may include the following:

  • Difficulty expressing oneself through speech or writing
  • Difficulty understanding spoken or written language
  • Inability to recognize or use symbols or gestures, such as letters or numbers
  • Difficulty with pronunciation, rhythm, or intonation of speech
  • Use of incorrect grammar or sentence structure
  • Repetitive or stereotyped language or speech patterns
  • Difficulty with social communication, such as taking turns in conversation or understanding nonverbal cues
  • Difficulty with reading comprehension or written expression
  • Limited vocabulary or word retrieval difficulties

R63.3: Feeding Difficulties

This disorder can manifest in various symptoms depending on the underlying cause of the feeding difficulty. Some common symptoms that may be associated with feeding difficulties include:

  • Refusal to eat or drink
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Regurgitation or vomiting during or after feeding
  • Coughing or choking during or after feeding
  • Weight loss or failure to thrive
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Fussiness or irritability during feeding
  • Recurrent respiratory infections

Final Thoughts

Utilizing ICD codes in speech therapy is essential for accurate diagnosis, treatment, and reimbursement. There are specific ICD codes for speech and language developmental disorders and codes for conditions that may affect speech and language abilities, such as ADHD and autism spectrum disorders.

To ensure accurate billing and reimbursement, speech-language pathologists must have an in-depth knowledge of the ICD codes for speech therapy and meticulously document their services. While navigating the complex world of medical coding can be difficult, the use of ICD codes ultimately aids in ensuring that patients receive the best possible care and that providers are compensated appropriately for their services.

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