What is medical equivalence for Social Security Disability?

When a Missouri resident has an injury, illness or condition that is believed to be severe enough to get Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, there are many terms that are used by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and could be the foundation for confusion and concern to the applicant. One is meeting the requirements to be considered disabled.

The Listing of Impairments is used to determine whether an applicant meets the requirements for qualifying SSD benefits for injury or illness. However, if the person — whether an adult or child — does not meet a specific impairment, it is possible to receive benefits if they meet the medical equivalence. Knowing how the SSA uses medical equivalence is vital to a case. The impairment will be perceived as meeting the criteria, if it is considered equal in the severity and duration of an impairment that is on the Listings.

There are three ways for the SSA to find that there is medical equivalence. First, it is enough if there is an impairment that is on the Listings but the person does not have one or more finding in that listing or the person shows all the findings but has one or more impairments that is not of sufficient severity for that listing.

Second, if the impairment is not described on the Listings, it will be compared to impairments that are considered close to those on the list — when there is medical significance with the issue that is considered equivalent to that which it is compared to, it will be sufficient. Third, when there is a combination of impairments without one meeting the Listings, there will be a comparison to those that are similar on the Listings and if they meet the requirements, it will be enough to be considered disabled.

Meeting the above criteria is a foundational aspect to the benefits’ requirements and being approved for SSD benefits. Those who do not automatically qualify based on the Listings can still get benefits if they meet the medical equivalence of impairments on the Listings. While this might sound confusing, it is beneficial to the applicant. A lawyer who is experienced at helping clients who are seeking Social Security Disability benefits can help with understanding medical equivalence and in using it to be approved.

Practice Areas

Military Law
Family Law
Social Security Disability
Worker’s Compensation
Personal Injury