Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What are the disability listings, and why are they important?

Aside from financial considerations and work history, the other significant component of making an application for disability benefits is being able to prove the existence of a disability. “Meeting a listing” is widely regarded as the most straightforward means by which a disability is established. The “listings” are contained within the Social Security Blue Book and may be found here.

Essentially, the Blue Book is a collection of medical maladies that are categorized by body system (cardiovascular, digestive, etc.) Within each body system is a set of descriptions of medical concerns that may occur within that system, which could rationally lead a person experiencing these concerns to be declared disabled. Many of the maladies are multi-faceted, and require that multiple criteria be met. Some of these criteria are objective (cardiac left ventricular ejection fraction), and some are more subjective (marked restriction of activities of daily living).

Submitting a medical record that is able to provably demonstrate that a listing is met will make securing disability benefits substantially more straightforward, at least regarding medical concerns. Even in cases where a record does clearly demonstrate the meeting of Blue Book criteria, further development is done by the SSA for the purposes of evaluating the relative reliability of the existing medical records, as well as getting an independent opinion about the Claimant’s medical condition. In many cases, these opinions are not favorable to Claimants and for this reason, it is recommended to have a strong treatment relationship with one’s own physician.

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