Published on: August 26, 2022
When you are unable to work because of an illness or injury, Social Security disability benefits may be available to help with living expenses and other bills that can quickly create financial hardship. The process to qualify for benefits is difficult with only about one-third of applications being approved for benefits after the initial determination process.
Although no physical or mental impairments automatically qualify for disability benefits, the Social Security Administration maintains a Listing of Impairments that could facilitate the approval process for an applicant with a listed impairment. The following information about the Listing of Impairments and how Social Security uses it in the determination process may answer questions you have about eligibility for Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance. A consultation and claim review with a disability advocate at Disability Experts of Florida gives you access to expert advice and representation in all matters related to SSD benefits.
Proving that you are disabled and qualify for SSD benefits
The definition of disabled used by Social Security requires that you have a medically determinable physical or medical impairment or a combination of impairments preventing you from engaging in substantial gainful activity. The impairment or impairments must have lasted or be expected to last for at least one year or result in death.
Substantial gainful activity is the ability to engage in physical and mental activities typically required to work at a job or in self-employment. The activities include the following:
- Climbing stairs
- Lifting things
They also include mental tasks, such as remembering and following directions, and other physical activities that someone pays you to perform.
The Social Security Administration uses monthly earnings from a job or income earned through self-employment to determine whether you are capable of engaging in substantial gainful activity. If you are working and earn more than $1,350 a month in 2022, you are not disabled according to SSD guidelines because you are engaging in substantial gainful activity. Someone whose application for SSI or SSDI benefits is based on being statutorily blind cannot have monthly earnings in excess of $2,260.
Listing of Impairments and impairment severity
The Listing of Impairments contained in the Program Operations Manual published by the Social Security Administration is commonly referred to as the “Blue Book.” It contains a listing of physical and mental impairments considered by the SSA as being severe enough to prevent meet the requirements of the disability definition that it uses to determine eligibility for SSDI and SSI benefits.
If you have a listed impairment or one that equals a Listing, it does not automatically qualify you for disability benefits because you must also meet non-medical requirements for each disability program. To qualify for SSDI, you must have worked long enough at jobs or through self-employment and paid Social Security taxes on the income that you earned to be “insured” and eligible for SSDI benefits provided you are disabled.
The non-medical requirements for SSI include limitations on the income and resources that you may have available to you. This is because SSI is a need-based program intended to assist someone who is disabled, blind, or age 65 or older by providing monthly payments to use to buy food or pay for housing.
What is a Listing impairment?
The Listings of Impairments is divided into two sections: Part A is for adults and Part B is for children younger than 18 years old. Each section is broken down into categories for diseases and disorders of different systems of the body. For example, Part A includes the following categories:
Part B listings include the same ones contained in Part A, but they also include medical conditions specific to children, such as low-birth weight.
Having a listed impairment means that it meets medical requirements to qualify for disability benefits through SSI and SSDI provided you also meet the non-medical criteria. You can qualify for SSI and SSDI even without a Listings impairment provided your medical records establish that you have a physical or mental disorder that is as severe as a listed impairment in the limitation it places on your ability to engage in activities usually associated with work.
Your medical records must contain a diagnosis of a particular medical condition or conditions causing you to be disabled. The diagnosis must be supported by clinical findings based on an examination conducted by a physician or other health care professional along with laboratory and diagnostic testing results.
Speak To A Disability Expert Today
The disability advocates at Disability Experts of Florida have been helping people to qualify for disability benefits for more than 35 years. Contact them today for a free consultation to learn how they can help to qualify you for disability benefits.