As you consider your injury or disease, you will want to know if it is on the Social Security Disability List of Impairments, compiled by the SSA. Certainly, it makes life easier if it is, but it does not mean you cannot claim SSDI if it isn’t. If your condition is listed, it just makes it easier to file a disability claim, even if there are still no guarantees.
Every condition in the list of disabilities is one which will keep you from working in any type of gainful employment for at least 12 months. If you meet that criteria, you might be eligible for SSDI or SSI or both.
In addition to the disabilities list, the Social Security Administration has an additional list called the Compassionate Allowances Program with 88 conditions that qualify you automatically for the benefits under Social Security Disability Insurance.
Those people who have a severe medical disability can have their claims expedited through the Compassionate Allowances Program. Your state’s Disability Determination Services (DDS) makes the decision as to whether you meet the criteria for disability.
The Social Security Disability Blue Book’s List of Conditions
This list of impairments is also called the Social Security Blue Book. This book is designed for the staff at the Social Security Administration, including their physicians, to make decisions regarding your disability and its severity.
This book separates disabilities into different types of ailments and also then gives insight into the severity and specification of the disability that is required for benefits. The book lays out the specifications and restrictions necessary to qualify for Social Security benefits.
The SSA Blue Book is also divided into Part A and Part B. Part A is for Adult Evaluations and Part B is for Children Evaluations. Adults are defined as 18 years of age or older. Consequently, children are defined as under 18 years of age. This is because some of the listed conditions have a much different effect on children than they do on adults. So they have to be evaluated differently.
Part A of the Social Security disability listings has 14 categories, including categories encompassing the musculoskeletal system, special senses and speech, congenital disorders that affect multiple body systems, respiratory disorders, cardiovascular system, digestive system and more. Part B has 15 similar impairment listings for disabling conditions. Anyone applying for benefits who meet the conditions and specifications listed in the Blue Book will receive them. The process to receive SSDI can be a long one: disability evaluation under social security can take some time
On the other hand, the Compassionate Allowance Initiative is set up so that those who have extremely severe medical conditions and need help now, will get it. Their Social Security benefits application process will be expedited so they can receive their benefits now. This program was introduced in 2008 and those who are severely disabled enough to meet the criteria in this listing of impairments is sometimes able to receive their Social Security Benefits in a matter of weeks. This is in stark opposition to the regular program where it can take months, even years to get approved and receive benefits.
When the Compassionate Allowance was put in place in 2008, there were 50 medical conditions on the disability qualifications list. By 2012 there were over 200 medical conditions qualifying for the Compassionate Allowance. Today there are 223 medical conditions that can be easily proved and quickly approved for the Compassionate Allowance.
The SSA put the Blue Book and the list of impairments in the Compassionate Allowance Program in place to help health care professionals and doctors understand how the disability programs work, the information the doctor needs and a quick return to the individual regarding their approval or not.
As previously mentioned the adults are separate from the children and they are evaluated somewhat differently. With adults, the individuals work history, age, skills, education, and severity of the condition(s) are considered.
Social Security Disability List of Impairments
What follows is the complete list of impairments in the Social Security Blue Book. In addition to proving you have the condition, you must also prove its severity.
Examples are arthritis, degenerative disc disease, scoliosis, and fibromyalgia.
Examples include COPD, asthma, and sleep apnea.
Examples include coronary artery disease, chronic heart failure, ventricular dysfunction, and high blood pressure.
Examples include short bowl system, Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and liver disease.
Genitourinary System Impairments
Examples are interstitial cystitis, kidney disease, and some forms of nephropathy.
Examples include chronic anemia, chronic thrombocytopenia, and sickle cell disease.
Examples include ichthyosis, cellulitis, dermatitis, chronic infections of the mucous membranes, malignant skin tumors, burns, hidradenitis, and shingles.
Endocrine System Disorders
Examples are imbalances in the adrenal, pituitary and thyroid glands, weight-loss gain, pancreatitis, arrhythmia, and diabetes.
Congenital Disorders Affecting Multiple Body Systems
Examples are in two categories. The first is Down Syndrome. Examples of the second include Fragile X Syndrome and Caudal Regression.
Examples include epilepsy, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s disease and traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
Examples are post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or autism.
Malignant Neoplastic Diseases
Examples are cancer of breast, liver, lung, lymphoma, and leukemia.
Immune System Disorders
HIV or human immunodeficiency virus, AIDS or acquired immune deficiency disorder and lupus.
Within each of these categories, there are individual illnesses, conditions or diseases of which there are only a few listed here. In addition, the Social Security List of Impairments then breaks down the illness or condition into the question of severity.
If you have arthritis as mentioned in Category One – Musculoskeletal. Then what kind of arthritis is it? Rheumatoid? Psoriatic? Inflammatory? How severe is it? Can you walk? Can you use your hands?
The Social Security Disability Blue Book says if you have arthritis you must have:
- Persistent swelling
- Limitation of joints such as the wrist, hip, hands, knee, elbow, ankle, shoulder
Then the Social Security staff or doctor will also look at all your medical records and proof that you are and have been treated for the condition. Then they will look at how the condition affects your daily life and ability to work. If you had a stand all day job can you work a sit down job or are you unable to work at all?
If The List of SSD Impairments Doesn’t Apply, Think About Residual Functional Capacity
If your condition is not on the List of Impairments or doesn’t meet the criteria of the list you might still be approved for Social Security disability benefits through the Residual Functional Capacity (RFC).
This RFC evaluation looks at the severity of symptoms and the impact of the disease on your life. There is much that goes into this evaluation including the consideration of your age, work experience, sometimes laboratory tests, education, skills, medical and physical condition and mental condition. All of this information is used to decide if you can work any kind of job at all.
If it is found that you cannot do sedentary work and you are under 50 you will be considered disabled by the Social Security List of Impairments and you will receive benefits. Sedentary work means that you can sit for six hours. You can lift 10 pounds. You can occasionally stand or walk for up to two hours in an 8 hour day.
If you have mental or psychological issues due to your rheumatoid arthritis and you can’t do even unskilled work, you will be considered disabled.
When you meet with the agent or doctor make sure you have every bit of medical documentation you can find to show you have this condition and how it impacts your everyday life and your work life. You will meet first with an agent who will decide to have you see their physician and/or psychologist.
Find Out If Your Impairment Is A Disabling Condition
So if you are looking to see if your condition will qualify you for SSD benefits, check the Social Security List of Impairments and don’t forget to check the Compassionate Allowance listing as well to see if you automatically qualify.
If you’re not sure your best course of action, think about consulting a disability attorney to help with your case. If that’s an option for you, find out what a disability attorney can do first, as it’s not always necessary.