Tell anybody that you’re filing for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, and you’re bound to get all kinds of information tossed your way — some good and some bad.
One thing you may hear is that the Social Security Administration (SSA) has a “Blue Book” of disabling conditions. Here’s what this really means:
The Blue Book is also called the “Listing of Impairments”
The Social Security Administration maintains lists of impairments for both adults and juveniles that they consider serious enough to be totally disabling. Way back in the days before computers were everywhere, the listing of impairments was printed in a large book with a blue cover — which is where it gets its name.
How is the Blue Book used in disability decisions?
To qualify for SSD benefits based on the Blue Book definition, you must not only have a specific diagnosis that’s listed, but you must also exactly meet the medical criteria listed beneath that condition. If you do, then you are automatically presumed to be disabled under the SSA’s rules.
What if you don’t meet the medical criteria listed in the Blue Book?
That’s no barrier to your claim. In fact, the vast majority of people who apply for disability benefits don’t exactly meet the narrow definition of what it means to be “disabled” with their condition.
Usually, people who apply for disability have several different medical conditions (or “comorbidities”) that have developed over time. For example, someone with adrenal dysfunction may also suffer from memory issues, anxiety, chronic headaches and joint and muscle pain. Taken as a whole, those conditions may “meet or equal” a listed impairment.
Understanding the ins-and-outs of a Social Security Disability claim can get very difficult. If your claim isn’t going well, it may be time to consider your legal options.