The SSA Listings
Applicants seeking Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) must establish that they have sufficient work credits to qualify for benefits and that their physical or mental limitations qualify them as disabled. When considering the second requirement, many applicants are confused as to where to turn to accurately assess their condition. The main source of information on this topic is the Book of Listings produced by the Social Security Administration (SSA). At Kantrovitz & Associates, our Social Security lawyers have extensive experience using the Listings to advise Massachusetts residents on the strength of their applications. After that initial step, we can guide you through the entire process of seeking benefits.What Is the Book of Listings?
The Book of Listings contains all the physical and mental impairments that the SSA has determined can qualify an individual for disability benefits. Also known as the Blue Book, it carefully sets forth common medical conditions that, when severe enough, automatically make you eligible for SSDI.
Listings in the Blue Book cover a wide range of medical issues, including musculoskeletal problems, cardiovascular concerns, skin diseases, respiratory diseases, blood and immune system disorders, and neurological and mental conditions. For each particular disorder or disease, the SSA sets forth certain requirements within the listing that must be met in order for an applicant’s condition to be deemed disabling. For instance, if an applicant has a digestive disorder that is listed in the Blue Book, he or she may qualify as disabled if he or she is able to show that the disorder meets the criteria set forth in the specific listing. Merely having the disorder is not enough if the symptoms fall below the threshold criteria set forth by the SSA.
Sometimes the criteria set forth by the SSA may require you to have certain tests or medical evaluations done in order to determine whether you meet the listing. This is why it can be useful to consult the Blue Book before filing your claim, since it can give you insight into what medical documentation you will need to provide in order to show that you are disabled.Applying for SSDI without Meeting a Listing
While the SSA’s Book of Listings is meant to be as comprehensive as possible, it is not an exclusive list. The agency recognizes that it is impossible to accurately cover all possible types of medical disorders and symptoms. For this reason, there are two possible ways to establish that you have a disabling medical condition, even without meeting a listing exactly. First, you can show that your current impairments are medically equivalent, in severity, to the criteria set forth in a listing. Thus, for instance, if you are required to show that your MRI established certain symptoms of your disability, and you can show that the same symptoms were identified via another form of imaging or testing, this likely would be considered being “equal to” an existing listing.
If your condition is not in the Blue Book, or you cannot show equivalency, the other option for disability is to establish that your residual functional capacity (RFC) is so limited by your physical or mental impairments as to render you disabled. A disability claims examiner will fully evaluate your medical records and supporting evidence to determine whether you qualify for disability benefits based on an RFC assessment. This usually means proving that you are unable to work at any job currently available anywhere in the United States.Consult a Massachusetts Lawyer when Applying for Government Benefits
In order to qualify for disability, either under an impairment listing or through an RFC assessment, you must have collected thorough documentation of your medical condition and how it has affected your life. Without such documentation, a disability claims examiner is unlikely to recognize or understand the extent of your impairment. At Kantrovitz & Associates, our government benefits attorneys have helped numerous individuals who are struggling with a medical disability or a mental health disorder in Massachusetts to identify the applicable listings for their condition and what evidence is required to support their claim. When a condition does not clearly meet an existing listing, we also help applicants pursue the RFC process. Based in Boston, we serve individuals throughout the state, including in Plymouth and Norfolk Counties as well as the Merrimack River area. You can contact us for more information at (800) 367-0871 or online.