Social Security Disability's Listing of Impairments

If you're suffering from a disability that is hindering your ability to work, you may be interested in filing for Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits.

If you're like most people, however, you don't really know what the Social Security Administration (SSA) considers disabling. It may help you to understand that SSA claims examiners partially base their determination on something known as the "Listing of Impairments."

The Listing of Impairments is a detailed guide that includes many conditions that can be disabling. Merely having a diagnosis that's on the list won't qualify you as disabled under SSA's rules, however, since many conditions can have different degrees of severity.

What are the impairment categories recognized by SSA?

The impairment categories listed by SSA include:

  • Respiratory disorders
  • Disorders or diseases of the cardiovascular system
  • Musculoskeletal system issues
  • Special senses and speech
  • Hematological disorders
  • Skin disorders
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Genitourinary disorders
  • Digestive system disorders
  • Congenital disorders affecting multiple body systems
  • Immune system disorders
  • Cancer and malignant neoplastic diseases
  • Mental disorders
  • Neurological disorders

Within each of these categories is a list of the specific conditions that SSA acknowledges could be serious enough to be disabling. For example, under neurological disorders, some of the recognized conditions include:

  • Epilepsy
  • Benign brain tumors
  • Cerebral palsy

Each of these conditions is then followed by a detailed explanation of how severe the condition must be to be considered disabling, along with what symptoms, lab tests and other documentation are needed.

If you happen to meet the exact criteria under a particular impairment to qualify as disabled, the disability evaluation process generally stops there.

If you don't, that doesn't mean you can't qualify for SSDI. It just means that your case will be more involved. Many people qualify for Social Security Disability benefits without meeting the criteria set forth in the Listing of Impairments -- including those with conditions that aren't even mentioned.

For a better understanding of how the Listing of Impairments could affect your claim, discuss the specifics of your case with your attorney. While it's helpful to be aware of the List, you don't want to try to determine your eligibility for benefits based on that alone.

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