The Bluebook’s role in Social Security disability


Missouri residents who are unable to work due to a serious illness or injury often find themselves struggling to make ends meet. For people in this situation, Social Security disability benefits may be the financial lifeline they need.

In order to collect SSD benefits, the applicant must demonstrate they are disabled. The Social Security Administration (SSA) maintains a Listing of Impairments, also known as the “Bluebook,” which lists numerous medical conditions and for each, the SSA’s criteria for approval of benefits. The criteria are used to determine whether a particular medical impairment is severe enough to prevent a person from working.

Part A of the Bluebook contains criteria for evaluating medical impairments in adults. Part A can also be used to evaluate impairments in children under age 18, if the medical condition at issue affects adults and children in the same way. Part B contains impairment criteria that are used when a medical condition affects only children, or when it affects children in a different way than adults.

Determining whether an applicant meets the criteria in the Bluebook is only one of several steps in the SSA’s evaluation process. If an applicant has a medical impairment that fits the criteria listed in the Bluebook, that will usually be sufficient to establish that the individual is disabled. The listings in the Bluebook are not exhaustive; if an applicant’s condition is not listed in the Bluebook, they may still be considered disabled. They will, however, have to establish their disability under other rules.

Throughout the application process the SSA relies on information submitted by the applicant and his or her medical providers. For many applicants, identifying the correct impairment criteria and collecting all of the supporting documentation can be a daunting task. Working with an experienced attorney can help ensure the job is done correctly.

Source: Social Security Administration, “Disability Evaluation Under Social Security: Part III – Listing Of Impairments,” accessed Nov. 19, 2016

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