The Social Security Administration uses two sets of regulations to legally determine someone’s disability status.
First, there is the Listing of Impairments. The Social Security Administration maintains a list of medical conditions it officially recognizes, and if you can verify that you have a condition on the list that meets a specified severity level, you are automatically found disabled. The Listings include the most common impairments, both physical and mental, as well as some easy-to-recognize uncommon impairments.
If you are found disabled because you have a condition included in the listings, you are said to “meet the Listings.” Even without having a condition explicitly identified in the listings, you can sometimes be found disabled by proving your impairment is very close to a listed impairment both in nature and in severity. This is called “equaling the Listings.” If you meet or equal the Listings, you do not need to prove anything extra in order to receive benefits. The Listings can be found on the Social Security Administration’s website: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/index.htm.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, the Social Security Administration, not your doctor, will determine if you meet or equal the Listings. The Social Security Administration states that doctors do not have the legal expertise to make that decision. In fact, the Social Security Administrations actively discourages physicians from discussing the Listings in their medical evaluations. Your doctor can better help your claim by diagnosing you with a condition on the Listings and providing a lot of detailed evidence for their diagnosis.
If you suffer from an impairment not included in the Listings, you will have to prove you are disabled according to the Medical-Vocational Guidelines. The Guidelines offer a set of standards for determining disability based on criteria involving work history, education level, and age. Basically, you will have to prove that, because of your impairment, you are incapable of performing at jobs you’ve held in the past 15 years, and that you are unsuited for jobs you can hold due to age, education level, or work experience.
If you have questions about your ability to meet any of these criteria, call Detroit disability attorney Marc J. Shefman today for a free consultation.