The Social Security Disability List of Impairments is an organized collection of health impairments for which the Social Security Administration provides SSDI and SSI disability claim approval criteria.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) awards Social Security Disability benefits based on the type of disabling condition the claimant suffers from. These are conditions affect the individual’s ability to gain employment. The Social Security Disability List of Impairments, also known as the “Blue Book,” contains a list of these conditions. If you are suffering from any of those conditions, you might be eligible to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
This disabilities record is referred to by decision-makers on claims (depending on what level your claim is at, the “decision-maker” will be either a disability examiner or a federal administrative law judge who hears disability cases) as simply “the listings.” This listing is also known as “the blue book” because for several decades the listings were published in a book with a blue cover, entitled “Disability Evaluation under Social Security.”
The Disability List of Impairments remains available online through Social Security has ceased to publish updates. The listings are organized by adult and child impairments and by body systems, such as mental disorders, immune system disorders, skin disorders, digestive system disorders, hemic and lymphatic system disorders, respiratory tract disorders, musculoskeletal system disorders, and cardiovascular system disorders.
In cases when disability benefits are granted, it’s not because the claimant’s case met or equaled the standards of a listing in the blue book. Normally, an approval occurs because the claimant is deemed to have a severe impairment that prevents them from being able to work and earn a gainful and substantial income.
Their condition must also be considered severe enough to prevent them from being able to perform other work their skills might suit them for, provided that additional vocational factors such as their age, education, and remaining functional capabilities do not stand in the way.
Here is a partial list of psychological and physical conditions that are listed (and organized under specific body systems) in the disability list manual:
- Musculoskeletal conditions – include stenosis, disk disease, scoliosis, osteoarthritis, fractures, and soft tissue injuries.
- Special senses and speech disorders – include hearing deficits, speech pathology, impairment of visual fields, and loss of visual acuity and efficiency.
- Respiratory impairments – include sleep apnea and emphysema.
- Cardiovascular ailments – include chronic heart disease, coronary artery disease, valvular defects, and arrhythmias.
- Digestive system disorders– include gastrointestinal hemorrhaging, hepatitis, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic liver disease, and liver transplantation.
- Genitourinary system ailments – include kidney disease and transplant rejection.
- Hematological (blood) System conditions – include polycythemia, anemia, and granulocytopenia.
- Skin ailments – include ichthyosis and hidradenitis suppurtiva.
- Endocrine disorders – include hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.
- Multiple body system ailments – include down syndrome.
- Neurological conditions – include ALS, petit mal seizures, TBI, CVA, and grand mal seizures.
- Mental impairments – such as bipolar disorder, anxiety, panic attacks, reduction of cognition, depression, personality disorders, somatoform disorders, and autism.
- Neoplastic ailments – include cancers affecting all body systems.
- Immune system disorders – include lupus, scleroderma, Sjogren’s syndrome, and HIV, and inflammatory arthritis.
Evidence and the Book
Almost all the listings in the Blue Book require objective proof and observable medical data. The SSA places great emphasis on the existence of laboratory findings such as x-rays, MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging), chemical analysis, exercise tests, and psychological evaluations when reviewing your disability claim.
There are medical disability benefits conditions. By way of example, with impairments, you need to provide proof of “marked” limitations on daily tasks. The term “marked” means severe; there must have a significant interference with your ability to work. This type of definition is not precise and consequently leaves some room when arguing whether you meet with a disability listing.
Medical experts frequently disagree with each other if a person meets a listing. If this occurs and your disability claim is denied, you should appeal your case. You should also contact an attorney if your case is nearing hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
To determine whether you’ve got significant problems with your daily functioning, the SSA will rely heavily on the medical notes from your treating doctor (a physician with whom you have an ongoing relationship) or an examining doctor (a physician who performed a one-time examination). The SSA will want to know whether mental or physical examinations were performed by the doctor and if that doctor thinks you’re disabled, why. Typically, if the physician relies solely on your own personal opinions of how you feel, the SSA will find that the doctor’s opinion is not supported enough to be factual.
What if Your Medical Condition is Not on the List?
If certain criteria are met, even if your medical condition isn’t in the Disability List of Impairments, you might qualify for SSI or SSDI. First, the medical condition must be a medically determinable impairment. A medically determinable impairment is a health condition that is the subject of clinical and lab testing. In other words, your condition must be supported by clinical reports.
The RFC also comprises limitations, like other restrictions that include the use of hands and the capacity and the ability to climb or bend down. If your medical condition qualifies for disability benefits, the disability claims examiner will take your medical history, reports, and residual functional capacity into consideration before it renders a decision.
Next, the medical condition must limit your residual functional capacity (RFC). This includes all activities you can still do despite the constraints of your condition. Based on your residual functional capacity, a disability claims examiner will determine what level of work you can do
What Medical Proof do you Need to Show?
Proof necessary in a Social Security disability case includes:
- Physician examination
- Treatment notes or reports
- CAT scan
- Mental health records
- Blood work panels
The medical evidence should be recent and encompass the period from when you became disabled to the current moment. Furthermore, your medical records must show that your condition is severe enough to keep you from performing your standard duties.
Social Security Disability List Criteria
Just as ALJs (administrative law judges) do so at the disability hearing level, Social Security Administration disability examiners use medical standards outlined in the Social Security disability guidebook Disability Evaluation under Social Security. The guidebook, also known as the blue book, focuses on disability criteria for several medical conditions.
The blue book includes medical impairment listings that cover many body systems. It contains the medical standards needed to meet or equal the severity of an impairment and meeting these standards generally result to the approval of benefits.
Getting approved based on the listing is rather difficult. Most medical conditions — physical or psychological — are not given a separate record.