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What is a Social Security Listing?

Wykoff & Sikes, PLLC May 31, 2023

The Social Security Administration (SSA) maintains a comprehensive guide called the Listing of Impairments, also known as the Blue Book. It contains a list of medical conditions and impairments that the SSA considers severe enough to qualify for disability benefits. The purpose of the Listing is to provide a framework for determining whether an individual meets the medical criteria for disability.

The Listing of Impairments is divided into two parts:

1. Part A: Adult Listings - This section outlines impairments that affect individuals aged 18 and older.

2. Part B: Childhood Listings - This section covers impairments that affect individuals under the age of 18.

Each impairment in the Listing is accompanied by specific medical criteria that must be met for an individual to be considered disabled. These criteria often include clinical findings, diagnostic tests, laboratory results, and specific symptoms that must be present for a particular condition. If an individual's medical condition meets or equals the requirements outlined in the Listing, they are generally considered disabled and eligible for disability benefits.

It's important to note that meeting a listing is not the only way to qualify for disability benefits. The SSA also considers the individual's ability to work, considering their age, education, work experience, and the residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment, which evaluates the individual's ability to perform work-related activities despite their impairments. If an individual's condition does not meet or equal a specific listing, the SSA will assess their RFC to determine if they can perform any substantial gainful activity (SGA) considering their limitations. If they are unable to engage in SGA, they may still be eligible for disability benefits.

In summary, the Listing of Impairments provides a guideline for determining disability based on specific medical criteria. Meeting or equaling a listing can significantly impact a disability claim as it establishes a presumption of disability. However, even if an individual's condition does not meet a specific listing, they may still be eligible for benefits if they can demonstrate that their impairments prevent them from engaging in substantial gainful activity.