What Is The CPT Code For Bereavement Counseling And When To Use It

In 1966, the American Medical Association(AMA) created the Current Procedural Code(CPT) system. Invented to standardize billing procedures across a variety of disciplines, CPT codes make insurance billing more simple for a variety of industries in the medical field.

For mental health professionals, it also can be more complicated and confusing. There are dozens upon dozens of CPT codes that anyone in the medical field can use, but not all of them will apply to a mental health professional. In fact, the majority of them do not.

What Is The CPT Code For Bereavement Counseling?

There isn’t one.

The important thing to remember with CPT codes is that they are meant to provide consistency across multiple industries. That means that while there are a lot of CPT codes to know, they are all general enough to be used, technically, by anyone who bills an insurance company for services rendered. For mental health professionals, what does that mean? There are no CPT codes for any diagnosable mental health concern. So, a mental health therapist wouldn’t have a code they need to use for anxiety, depression, trauma, or even grief diagnoses.

An insurance company generally does not care about the specific diagnoses or reasoning for a patient to be seen. CPT codes are only meant to provide proof that a client was seen and for the session length. Sifting through every single CPT code that exists can be an exhausting process. Because of this, many practicer owners will spend an extraordinary amount of time trying to learn them all. That isn’t really necessary to do. Instead, I wanted to create a CPT code cheat sheet to help therapists across the United States save time and frustration.

therapist in session

What CPT codes would be relevant to Bereavement Counseling?

Generally speaking, most therapists will use code 90834 for a 38 to 52-minute session. Or they may use 90837 for a 53-minute or longer session. But what can you do when a client is with you longer? You can use an extender code for longer sessions with CPT code 90837. 90832 will be used for a session that is longer than 0 to 30 minutes after 53 minutes. 

Other Codes That Can Be Used

There aren’t any specific codes that are used when referencing bereavement counseling only. However, there is a general code that can be used when billing insurance.


An adjustment disorder is relevant when a client is experiencing more stress than would be normally expected due to certain events or situations. This is relevant to the persistent complex bereavement disorder a patient may be diagnosed with.

Specifically, underneath the ICD-10 guidelines, code F43.20 is used for any adjustment disorder. To meet the requirements of this code, a patient must:

  • Exhibit an extreme emotional response or actions that cause problems at work or home
  • Negative reactions to stressors that impair social, work, or everyday life functioning
Persistent complex bereavement disorder is a diagnosable condition when a patient has been experiencing an extended response to grief. Because of this, it could be considered an adjustment disorder under the guidelines of ICD-10, or International Classification of Diseases, 10th edition. 

F43.81 is a billable/specific ICD-10-CM code that can be used to indicate a diagnosis for reimbursement purposes.

  • ICD-10-CM F43.81 is a new 2023 ICD-10-CM code that became effective on October 1, 2022.
  • This is the American ICD-10-CM version of F43.81 – other international versions of ICD-10 F43.81 may differ.
  • Applicable To
    • Complicated grief
    • Complicated grief disorder
    • Persistent complex bereavement disorder
therapist checking CPT Codes for Bereavement Counseling

Will My Billing Claim Be Denied For Bereavement Counseling?

When using any of the CPT codes noted in an earlier section, typically, no. However, it is important to note that when using code F43.20 for an adjustment disorder, more paperwork may be required to prove that the patient is eligible to be considered under this reimbursement code.

If you are unsure about billing insurance, I am here to help you. Visit my Facebook group Insurance Billing For Telehealth Practitioners, or contact me directly with any questions you may have.

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