If you are injured and out of work, Social Security disability benefits can be invaluable in helping you support yourself and your family. But what qualifies as a disability according to the SSA? In order to determine your eligibility for benefits, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the Blue Book. This book outlines all of the impairments and conditions that qualify for benefits.
Where Can I Find the Social Security Disability Blue Book?
You can find the Blue Book online under the SSA’s Medical Listings (A) and Childhood Listings (B). These two sections are very similar, but you can find additional conditions under the Childhood Listings.
Every condition is listed under a specific numbered category. For instance, you will find conditions involving the Musculoskeletal System listed under 1.00. Within each category, listed conditions are given a specific corresponding number. Then, under the subcategory, you will find a description of each condition and the requirements for eligibility.
What Medical Conditions Are Listed in the Blue Book?
The Blue Book lists a variety of disabling conditions, as well as the severity at which they automatically qualify you for benefits. Some of the categories of conditions listed in the manual include the following:
- Immune system disorders
- Speech and senses issues
- Skin disorders
- Mental disorders
- Genitourinary problems and kidney disease
- Hemolytic and hematological disorders
- Digestive tract issues
- Other syndromes
If your condition falls under one of these categories and meets the severity detailed in the Blue Book’s description, there is a good chance that your disability benefits claim will be approved.
What If My Condition Is Not in the Listings?
Not every condition that qualifies for disability benefits is listed in the Blue Book or meets the exact definition described in the book. But even if your condition is not listed in the Blue Book, you may still be able to qualify for benefits.
For example, your condition may still be eligible if it medically equals the criteria of another listing. This is known as “equaling a disability listing.” In other words, you must be able to prove that your condition is equivalent to a listed condition. The SSA will allow you to do this in the following situations:
- Your impairment is listed, but it doesn’t meet specific criteria. You can equal the listing if you can show that you have other medical issues that are equal in medical value to the requirements.
- Your impairment is not listed, but is very similar to one that is listed. You can equal the listing if you can show that your impairment is medically equivalent to the one found in the similar listing.
- Your impairment is a combination of impairments that each don’t necessarily meet an individual listing. You can equal the listing if the combined effect of your condition is equal to similar listings.
What If My Condition Doesn’t Match a Listing?
For conditions listed in the Blue Book, or conditions that are medically equivalent to another listing, the SSA makes the process much easier. But what if your condition doesn’t meet or equal criteria in the Blue Book?
You may still be eligible for benefits if the condition limits your functioning to the point where you cannot work. For example, the Blue Book does not include migraine headaches in the listings. But if the severity of your migraines is significant enough, and you have enough documentation to prove this, the SSA may grant you disability benefits on the basis that your condition is a medically determinable impairment that impacts your ability to work at your prior job (or any other job).
In other words, you must be able to prove that your condition prevents you from engaging in substantial gainful activity — meaning that you are unable to make a significant amount of money. Even if you are working part-time, if your wages are still lower than the cap amount (which changes annually), you can potentially receive benefits if you can show that your inability to work more hours is due to your condition. Furthermore, people who work under special conditions can sometimes bypass income limit restrictions, since their gainful activity would be lower in the regular market.
Proving You Have a Disability
The Blue Book is technical and complex, written for interpretation by medical professionals and SSD experts. You will need to obtain substantial medical evidence, as well as supporting physicians. You will also need to submit any information about your medical tests, treatments, medical providers, records, and more.
Trying to prove that your condition meets SSA requirements can be an uphill battle. An experienced disability attorney can help you understand the listing criteria and determine whether you qualify for benefits. We can also help you collect the information you need to present a solid case to the SSA.
For More Information About What Qualifies as a Disability
At Carmichael Law Group, we can guide you through the complicated disability claims process. To learn more about what qualifies as a disability or how to make sense of the Blue Book, contact us today.