What is the Social Security Administration’s Medical Listing of Impairments?

Indianapolis Attorney Scott D. Lewis practices Social Security disability law throughout the state of Indiana. He represents disability claimants with their Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim. Most individuals who apply for SSDI or SSI benefits have no idea what disability criteria the Social Security Administration (SSA) uses to determine if they are disabled. The SSA determines if an individual is disabled according to the rules and regulations governing Social Security disability and use a “Listing of Impairments” also known as the “blue book” to determine if an individual will meet or exceed the SSA’s definition of disability.

What is the Social Security Administration’s Medical “Listing of Impairments”?  This medical listing referred to as the blue book is a list of impairments that Congress has defined to be disabling. This disability handbook contains fourteen (14) major body system sections that address a list of Social Security disability impairments considered to be severe enough to prevent an individual from engaging in substantial gainful activity (SGA).

The major body systems addressed within the blue book are as follows:

  1. Musculoskeletal System,
  2. Special Senses and Speech,
  3. Respiratory System,
  4. Cardiovascular System,
  5. Digestive System,
  6. Genitourinary Impairments,
  7. Hematological Disorders,
  8. Skin Disorders,
  9. Endocrine System,
  10. Impairments that Affect Multiple Body Systems,
  11. Neurological,
  12. Mental Disorders,
  13. Malignant Neoplastic Diseases, and
  14. Immune System Disorders.

Within each of the above listings, Social Security defines the criteria needed to meet the listing in which disability is defined.  Indiana disability claimants may wonder what impairments they will find in the Social Security List of Impairments.  The “Listing of Impairments” contains a list of disabling conditions for each major body system.  For example, if you are disabled due to a spinal disorder, you must meet the criteria set forth in the section of the listing dealing with Musculoskeletal System.  In Section 1.00 Musculoskeletal System, this particular section includes, but not limited to, disorders such as disorders of the spine, amputations, fractures of an upper extremity, and soft tissue injuries.

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Not all disabling conditions are found in the SSA’s Listing of Impairments.  Therefore, the SSA may still find you disabled even if your disability was not included in this handbook.  The SSA considers any medical condition or combination of conditions disabling if it prevents someone from working and achieving SGA.  These disabling conditions may be physical, mental, or both.  In some cases, the SSA will base disability on the claimant’s residual functional capacity.  This means what an individual is capable of doing in spite of their impairment(s) rather than specific medical and/or mental impairments. The majority of all Social Security disability cases, approval for disability benefits are medical vocational decisions, which are based upon an individual’s age, educational background, work history, and residual functional capacity.

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