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What Qualifies As A Disability? Understanding The Social Security Disability Blue Book

When you are ill or injured and unable to work, you may want to pursue Social Security Disability benefits to support yourself and your family. But how do you know whether the SSA will consider you disabled? What qualifies as a disability?

In order to determine whether you are eligible for benefits, it’s important to be familiar with the Social Security Disability Blue Book. The Blue Book lists all of the conditions and impairments that qualify for benefits. Below, we discuss how the Blue Book could impact your claim, as well as how a disability attorney can help with your application.

To learn more, speak to Gary Brown, a Charlotte, North Carolina, disability attorney, at Disability Attorney Services. We work with clients with an array of conditions, and we can help you with an application or appeal. Call us today.

Where To Find The Social Security Disability Blue Book Listings

The SSA lists the Blue Book information online in their Medical Listings (Part A) and Childhood Listings (Part B). The two are very similar; however, the childhood listings have additional conditions, such as low birth weight and failure to thrive and different requirements to meet each listing.

Each of the listed conditions is under a numbered category. For example, Musculoskeletal System conditions are listed under 1.00. Then, within that category, each condition has a number that corresponds with it. Soft tissue injury is related to number 1.08. Under each subcategory number, there is a description of the condition as well as the requirements that must be shown to “meet” the disability condition.

What Medical Conditions Are Listed?

The Blue Book lists various disabling conditions, along with information about the severity of those conditions, that will result in an automatic qualification for disability benefits. The listing manual separates conditions into categories, including:

  • Musculoskeletal
  • Cardiovascular
  • Senses and speech issues
  • Respiratory
  • Neurological
  • Mental disorders
  • Immune system conditions
  • Other syndromes
  • Skin disorders
  • Digestive tract issues
  • Kidney disease and genitourinary problems
  • Cancer
  • Hematological and hemolytic disorders

If you have a condition that falls into one of these categories and that meets the severity listed within the description of the Blue Book, then you have a good chance of qualifying for disability benefits.

What Medical Conditions Are Not Listed?

Not all conditions meet the exact listings in the Social Security Disability Blue Book. For example, rheumatoid arthritis is a common condition that is not specifically listed as a particular condition in the Blue Book. However, a person with an unlisted condition or rheumatoid arthritis may still qualify.

You may still qualify for disability benefits if your condition meets the medical equivalency of another criteria of another listing. This is considered “equaling a disability listing.” Government statistics indicate that 37% of approved disability applicants fully “met” a listing, while 6% “equaled” a listing. The other applicants may not have met or equaled the listings, but their conditions still limited their functioning so much they could not work.

What Qualifies As A Disability?

If you are unable to work for at least 12 months due to an illness or injury, you may have a qualifying condition. The SSA makes it easier for people who meet requirements in the Blue Book. However, you may still be able to qualify even if your condition is not in the listings or if it’s equivalent to a condition in the Blue Book.

Your condition must render you unable to engage in substantial gainful activity. That means you must be unable to earn a significant amount of money. That amount changes each year, but it is limited. Thus, if you are able to work part time or in a special capacity, then you may still qualify. People who are working in a family business or under special conditions may be able to bypass some of the restrictions on income limits for substantial gainful activity. This is because they would not be able to engage in such activity in the regular market.

Some conditions are more likely to qualify for SSD benefits than others, as they are often easier to support with medical evidence and testing. Doctors are sometimes more supportive of various conditions. A Charlotte, North Carolina, disability attorney can help you understand your chances of being approved.

Using The Blue Book To Prove You Have A Disability

The Blue Book is very technical. In addition to the listings of medical conditions, it also includes information about symptoms, exam results and specific numbers for medical tests.

In order to prove that you qualify for disability benefits, you must have a supporting physician, as well as significant medical evidence. You must be able to provide information about your medical treatment, tests and more. You will have to submit contact information for your medical providers, and you may even submit records.

The Blue Book was written to be interpreted by medical professionals and Social Security Disability experts. It can be difficult for a layperson to understand. Thus, trying to determine whether your condition meets the requirements in the Blue Book can be confusing. A knowledgeable disability attorney can read the listings for you and help you understand if you meet the requirements. Your attorney will also help you gather information necessary to meet those requirements and prove to the SSA that you have a disability.

Contact A Charlotte, North Carolina, Disability Attorney For More Information

Attorney Gary Brown has extensive experience working with an array of disability claimants. To learn more about what qualifies as a disability according to the Social Security Disability blue book, contact Disability Attorney Services today.