The SSA Blue Book: A Comprehensive Guide to Social Security Disability List of Impairments

By Kenton Koszdin on June 11, 2018 | In Disability Insurance

The SSA Blue Book: A Comprehensive Guide to Social Security Disability List of Impairments

Most people understand that if they suffer an injury or illness and are unable to work, they may receive money from one of two Social Security Administration (SSA) disability programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

But how do you know if you are eligible to receive disability benefits? It is not as simple as getting a doctor’s note or being considered disabled by a healthcare provider. The SSA will consider your condition and your ability to “achieve gainful employment”.

A Social Security disability attorney in California can better assist you in understanding which benefits you’re eligible for.

What Is the Blue Book for Disability?

The SSA Blue Book, formally titled Disability Evaluation Under Social Security, contains the criteria used by the Social Security Administration (SSA) in determining a claimant’s disability. The SSA Blue Book determines if an applicant for disability benefits meets the statutory standard of disability. It also contains listings of impairments and the medical criteria necessary to establish them for the purpose of qualifying for disability benefits.

The listings are divided into two parts for medical criteria: Part A contains medical criteria that apply to the evaluation of impairments in adults age 18 and over. As certain criteria in Part A may not give proper consideration to the effects of the disease processes in childhood, Part B of the listing of impairments contains additional medical criteria that apply only to the evaluation of impairments of persons in children under age 18.

Disability Evaluation

Common Disabilities Amongst Applicants for SSDI Benefits

The Social Security Administration’s blue book is broken down into 14 sections:

Cancer (Malignant Neoplastic Diseases)

Not every type of cancer is listed in the blue book. Generally, any Stage IV or terminal cancer will automatically qualify an individual for social security disability. However, less serious cases of cancer will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Cancer may qualify for the Compassionate Allowance program, which is essentially a short list of obviously debilitating medical conditions that are often aggressive in nature and are eligible for expediting. Cancers that are on the Compassionate Allowance Conditions list include:

  • Acute Leukemia
  • Adrenal Cancer
  • Bladder Cancer — with distant metastases or inoperable or unresectable
  • Breast Cancer — with distant metastases or inoperable or unresectable
  • Ependymoblastoma (Child Brain Cancer)
  • Esophageal Cancer
  • Fibrolamellar Cancer
  • Gallbladder Cancer
  • Glioblastoma Multiforme (Brain Cancer)
  • Head and Neck Cancers — with distant metastasis or inoperable or unresectable
  • Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC)
  • Kidney Cancer — inoperable or unresectable
  • Large Intestine Cancer — with distant metastasis or inoperable, unresectable, or recurrent
  • Liver Cancer
  • Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
  • Ovarian Cancer – with distant metastases or inoperable or unresectable
  • Pancreatic Cancer
  • Peripheral Nerve Cancer
  • Primary Peritoneal Cancer
  • Salivary Cancers
  • Sinonasal Cancer
  • Stomach Cancer — with distant metastases or inoperable, unresectable, or recurrent
  • Thyroid Cancer
  • Ureter Cancer — with distant metastases or inoperable, unresectable, or recurrent

To be eligible for any disability benefits programs, you will need to provide documentation and evidence.

Cardiovascular System

Heart conditions are a common cause of disability – some of the most common conditions that qualify individuals for disability include congestive heart failure, ischemic heart diseases, recurrent arrhythmias, congenital heart disease, and chronic heart failure.

ssa disabilities list

Congenital Disorders That Affect Multiple Body Systems

Impairments that include multiple body systems include two categories: Non-Mosaic Down’s Syndrome, and “All other conditions which affect multiple body systems,” which generally include:

  • Caudal Regression Syndrome
  • Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome
  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
  • Fragile X Syndrome
  • Mosaic/Non-mosaic Down Syndrome
  • Phenylketonuria (PKU)
  • Reye’s Syndrome
  • Trisomy X Syndrome (XXX Syndrome)

Digestive System

Some disorders of the digestive system may be disabling conditions. The SSA recognizes the following disorders:

  • Short bowel syndrome
  • Malnutrition
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Hepatic (liver) dysfunction
  • Gastrointestinal hemorrhage

To determine eligibility, the SSA will look at specific symptoms, especially those that prevent an individual from working.

Endocrine System Disorders

The Endocrine System generates hormones — and disorders of the endocrine system can be extremely challenging. You probably have heard of the most common endocrine disorder – Diabetes. Along with diabetes, other endocrine system disorders which may be eligible for disability benefits include:

  • Pituitary Gland Disorders
  • Thyroid Gland Disorders
  • Parathyroid Gland Disorders
  • Adrenal Gland Disorders
  • Pancreatic Gland Disorders
  • Hyperglycemia

social security disabilities list

Genitourinary Disorders

Genitourinary disorders affect the urinary and reproductive systems. Not all Genitourinary disorders are serious enough to involve disability, but those that result in chronic kidney disease (CKD) can be life-changing. The Social Security Administration recognizes some disorders of the genitourinary system including hereditary nephropathies, chronic glomerulonephritis, hypertensive nephropathy, diabetic nephropathy, and chronic obstructive uropathy.

Hematological Disorders

Hematological disorders include blood disorders and disorders of blood-forming organs. The SSA generally recognizes nine (9) types of hematological disorders

  • Aplastic Anemias
  • Chronic Anemia
  • Chronic Granulocytopenia
  • Chronic Thrombocytopenia
  • Coagulation Defects and Hemophilia
  • Hereditary Telangiectasia
  • Myelofibrosis
  • Polycythemia Vera
  • Sickle Cell Disease

Simply having an illness or disease does not mean that disability will be granted. The Blue Book will explain medical criteria. For example, to qualify with sickle cell disease, you need to have had three or more crises within a rolling five-month window, or three crises requiring hospitalization in the past year. Of course, it will also depend on how your illness will impact your ability to work. You may qualify if you are severely anemic.

Immune System Disorders

Immune system disorder results from abnormally low activity of the immune system or overactivity of the immune system. Conditions that may qualify for disability income include:

  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Systemic vasculitis
  • Systemic sclerosis or scleroderma
  • Polymyositis or dermatomyositis
  • Undifferentiated mixed connective tissue disease
  • Immune deficiency disorders (excluding (HIV)
  • Inflammatory arthritis
  • Sjögren’s syndrome
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection.

Mental Disorders

The SSA recognizes 11 categories of mental disorders in their blue book:

  • Neurocognitive disorders
  • Schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders
  • Depressive, bipolar, and related disorders
  • Intellectual disorders
  • Anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders
  • Somatic symptoms and related disorders
  • Personality and impulse-control disorders
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Trauma- and stressor-related disorders

ssa blue book

Musculoskeletal System

Degenerative disc disease, scoliosis, and fibromyalgia are examples of musculoskeletal disorders. They can be congenital, hereditary, or acquired.

Neurological Disorders

Many neurological disorders are eligible for SSI benefits, from migraine headaches to multiple sclerosis (MS). Other eligible disorders are brain tumors (both benign and malignant), epilepsy, persistent motor function disorganization, traumatic brain injury (TBI) ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy, and spinal cord/nerve lesions.

Respiratory Disorders

Respiratory impairments may qualify individuals for social security disability, including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and sleep apnea.

blue book ssdi

Skin Disorders

The SSA considers certain skin conditions potentially disabling including skin lesions, severe burns, dermatitis, bullous disease, chronic infections, and genetic photosensitivity.

Special Senses and Speech

Impairments involving the ability to see, hear, and speak can be life-changing. Medical tests may be required to establish blindness, deafness, and speech impairments.

Are All Impairments in the Disability Blue Book?

While it is true that the Social Security Blue Book covers a wide range of impairments, it is still possible to obtain benefits with a disability that is not listed. Although it can be challenging to obtain disability benefits with an unlisted condition, it is not impossible. The SSA will consider the severity of your impairment and the impact on your ability to work. Because impairments vary greatly among individuals, social security disability benefits may be awarded for conditions in one individual and not the other – and eligibility for disability benefits can vary from one person to the next.

How Does the Blue Book Impact the Disability Claims Process?

The criteria detailed in the listings of impairments apply only to one step of the multi-step sequential evaluation process. If no listing-level impairment exists, this is not conclusive that the individual is not disabled. Instead, the adjudication of a claim moves to the next step of the sequential evaluation process applying applicable rules to further consider and resolve whether an individual has a qualifying disability.

Each applicant who files a disability claim is responsible for providing medical evidence demonstrating the presence of an impairment and the severity of the impairment. A disability attorney with the skill of Kenton Koszdin may increase the likelihood of benefit approval for any applicant whose condition does not meet a listing. The assistance of an experienced attorney like Kenton Koszdin is invaluable at each stage of the multi-step evaluation process.

social security disability blue book

Is Your Condition in the Blue Book?

It is possible to qualify for disability benefits whether or not your medical impairments are listed in the Blue Book. While it is true that the Blue Book lists disabling impairments and explains the requirements for evaluating an impairment, having an impairment listed in the Blue Book is not required to be eligible for disability benefits.

Does Your Condition Match a Listing?

The Blue Book details how disabilities are determined, but does not evaluate your own medical evidence. The Blue Book can help you understand the evidence that is required for eligibility for benefits.

Does Your Condition “Equal” a Listing?

A condition may be in the Bluebook, but again, a listing in the blue book is not evidence of eligibility. Because the book is written for healthcare providers and disability professionals, it can be difficult to understand.

Do I Need Help with the SSA Disability Blue Book?

Unfortunately, even seemingly straightforward cases are often far from simple. The Blue Book is technical, complex, and not easy to understand. If you have questions about Social Security disability blue book listings or need assistance with a disability claim, a California disability attorney can help you. Contact the Kenton Koszdin Law Office at 818-381-5211 to schedule your free consultation.

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