The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a list of impairments that are used throughout the disability process. This list, often referred to as the “Blue Book,” outlines the specific impairments, both physical and mental, that are used to determine eligibility. Our Denver disability lawyer helps clients present strong benefit applications to the SSA based on the listings found in the Blue Book.
Explaining the Blue Book
Officially titled Disability Evaluation Under Social Security, the Blue Book outlines in detail the requirements that a judge uses to determine whether or not an impairment qualifies. The book includes two main parts: Part A is about adult disability assessments and Part B is about childhood disability assessments.
Within these two major sections, there are further sub-sections that outline major disability categories. Each category details the most common and severe conditions which can qualify a person for disability benefits. The major disability categories covered in the Blue Book are:
If You See Your Condition is Listed
If you see your disability listed in the Blue Book, you may have a difficult time determining whether or not your symptoms are severe enough to meet the book’s criteria. Our Denver disability attorney can help you review the listing, compare your symptoms, and provide guidance as we prepare your application together.
Collecting Medical Evidence
During the review of a disability benefits application, the SSA claims examiner will consider the medical evidence presented and compare it to the listing. This means that most applicants need to work closely with their treating physician(s) in order to gather the medical evidence necessary to support their application. Relevant medical evidence may include complete records, doctor’s notes, test results, the dates of hospital stays, and information about all treatments that have been tried. The Social Security claims examiner will look to confirm that an applicant is doing (or have done) everything possible to treat their condition.
Collecting Vocational Information
Depending on the type of benefits an applicant is applying for, the Social Security Administration may also consider their ability to work. The SSA may need to review the person’s educational background and work history in order to make an assessment. If the Social Security Administration finds that the applicant may be able to engage in substantial gainful activities despite their impairments, this could be grounds for application denial. Our Denver disability lawyer can help you determine what information needs to be included in your application.
Qualifying for an Equal Listing
The SSA’s Blue Book does not list all qualifying impairments or symptoms. If you don’t see your disability outlined in the Blue Book, don’t lose hope—you may still qualify for benefits by applying under an “equal” listing. The SSA accepts “equal” listings because it would be impossible for them to outline every variant of all conditions. In order to qualify for an equal listing, the applicant must make the case that their disability is medically equivalent to one outlined in the Blue Book.
Working with a Denver disability lawyer may be especially helpful for a person who needs to prove that their condition ‘equals’ a listing in the Blue Book. Here are some reasons why an applicant may need to apply for an equal listing:
- Your disability is listed, but your symptoms are not. You will find that even for listed conditions, the criteria to qualify can be very narrow. Applicants may be able to qualify by providing evidence of equal “medical value” to that which is included in the listing.
- Your disability is not listed in the SSA’s Blue Book. In this case, the applicant must identify a listed condition that is most similar to their own in terms of impact and severity. The SSA will review the medical evidence provided and look to compare the effect of a person’s symptoms to what is detailed in the listing.
- You suffer from a combination of impairments. Many individuals are profoundly affected not by a single condition, but by a combination of ‘lesser’ conditions which together disable them. Applicants with a combination of impairments must provide substantial medical evidence to show that their experience is medically equivalent to an existing listing.
How Thomas Feldman Can Help
Thomas Feldman is a Denver disability lawyer who has helped many clients win their case and receive necessary benefits. For a disabled person, the process of detailing and defending their disability can be nerve-wracking and confusing, and often cooincides with one of the most stressful periods in their life. Those who accept the support and guidance of a qualified legal professional are less likely to experience delays and denials due to incomplete applications. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free consultation!