Most individuals who apply for Social Security disability don't know what disability criteria the Social Security Administration (SSA) uses to determine if claimants are disabled. In part, disability examiners use a list of impairments known as the "Blue Book" to determine if an individual will meet the Social Security definition of disability.
What Is the Blue Book?
The Blue Book is a list of impairments with detailed requirements for when the SSA judges a medical condition to be disabling.
The official name of this disability handbook is Disability Evaluation Under Social Security.
This listing of impairments contain the impairments considered to be severe enough to keep an individual from working. If you match the requirements of a listed impairment (called a "listing"), you will qualify for disability automatically, regardless of whether you can actually work or not.
The Blue Book is divided into two main parts:
•Part A is dedicated to adult disability assessments.
•Part B is dedicated to childhood disability assessments.
Each of these parts is divided into sections (15 for children, 14 for adults) which contain information about types of disabilities.
The major body systems addressed within the Social Security disability handbook are as follows: Musculoskeletal, Special Senses (Vision and Hearing), Respiratory System, Cardiovascular System, Digestive System, Genitourinary System, Hematological Disorders, Skin Disorders, Endocrine Disorders, Multiple Body Systems, Neurological, Mental Disorders, Neoplastic Diseases (Cancer), and Immune System Disorders.
For each major body system, the Blue Book contains a list of disabling conditions. For instance, you find fractures and spinal disorders addressed in the musculoskeletal section.
Using the Listing of Impairments to Help Your Case:
Because illnesses and injuries have varying degrees of severity, the Blue Book sets out the requirements for how severe the symptoms, clinical findings, and laboratory tests for a particular impairment have to be — to make sure that the condition is severe enough for an automatic approval.
(If your condition doesn't match a listing, the SSA goes through a longer determination process to see if you're disabled, but if you can match a listing, the process stops there.)
Disability Evaluation Under Social Security:
The Listing of Impairments describes, for each major body system, impairments considered severe enough to prevent an individual from doing any gainful activity (or in the case of children under age 18 applying for SSI, severe enought to cause marked and severe functional limitations).
Most of the listed impairments are permanent or expected to result in death, or the listing includes a specific statement of duration is made. For all other listings, the evidence must show that the impairment has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months. The criteria in the Listing of Impairments are applicable to evaluation of claims for disability benefits under the Social Security disability insurance program or payments under both the SSI program.
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