When you are applying for Social Security disability benefits, you will win by proving your are too disabled to support yourself through work. You can do this in one of three ways. One is by meeting a disability listing in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Blue Book.
What it Means to Meet a Disability Listing in the Blue Book
The SSA uses the handbook Disability Evaluation Under Social Security, also known as the Blue Book, to determine your disability severity. The Blue Book contains a list of common impairments and includes a description of each.
In order to meet a listing to get approved for benefits, your symptoms must match those described in the listing, and they must affect you how the listing says.
For most disabilities, your impairment also needs to last for the amount of time specified in the Blue Book or at least for 12 consecutive months.
When you meet a listing in the Blue Book and medical evidence proves it, then you will be qualified for benefits. If you meet a listing, the the Social Security workers will then review your claim and will calculate if you can find a job in the national economy and make substantial gainful employment. The listings’ criteria is so severe that someone who met them could not reasonably be expected to find and keep a job.
How Do I Know if I Meet a Listing in the Blue Book?
You can visit the online Blue Book for adult applicants and check if your impairment is there. The information is organized into broad categories (mental, skin, musculoskeletal disorders, etc.) and within those, classes of diagnoses (paranoid disorders, intellectual disabilities, etc.). These diagnoses have lengthy descriptions detailing the symptoms and effects of those symptoms on daily functioning.
The descriptions can seem dense, confusing, and vague. Words used in the Blue Book may have different meanings than usual. Take the use of the word “marked.” “Marked” restrictions in the Blue Book do not mean you are limited in the number of activities but in the nature you do them in. If your difficulties meet the requirement of being “marked,” you have difficulty performing daily activities without direct supervision, on a consistent basis, or without “undue interruptions.”
Dissecting these descriptions is not easy. We suggest that you start off by researching some of the medical jargon. However, it is more important that you consult with your doctor. He or she will likely be able to help you figure out if you meet a listing. While you consult with your doctor, you might want to request any clinical or lab work that the Blue Book requires. Generally, the SSA gives the most weight to your doctor’s opinion as to whether you meet a listing or not.
If you meet a medical listing and you can prove it, the SSA will automatically grant you disability benefits without calculating if you can work and make substantial gainful activity. If you can meet a medical listing, then you will simplify the claims process for yourself. However, if you cannot, there are other ways to win benefits, including “equaling” a listing or with a residual functional capacity assessment (RFC) form that gives medical evidence in your favor. If you do not clearly meet a medical listing, then you will likely need an attorney to help you with the next steps. Summit Disability Law Group wishes you the best in your claim. We are available to schedule a free consultation.
Photo courtesy of Dominik Golenia via Creative Commons