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A Comprehensive Guide to the Social Security Disability “Blue Book”: What is it and How Does it Affect Your Claim

Do you have a chronic medical condition that keeps you from working on a full-time basis? You may be considering filing an application for Social Security disability (SSD) benefits. To qualify for benefits through SSDI or SSI, you will be required to prove that you have a qualifying medical disability. In assessing the medical aspect of your claim, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will refer to the Disability Evaluation Under Social Security—or as it is more commonly known, the “Blue Book.” In this article, our Arizona Social Security disability attorney provides a comprehensive guide to the SSA’s Blue Book. 


Social Security Disability Blue Book: Know the Basics


The Social Security Disability “Blue Book” is a vital resource for those who are filing for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Simply put, it is a guide published by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that contains detailed information on various medical conditions that qualify for disability benefits. Indeed, the Blue Book serves as a basis for the SSA to determine whether an applicant’s medical condition is severe enough to be considered a disability. 


The Takeaway: When SSA claims evaluators review your file, they will refer to the Blue Book to assess if you qualify as medically disabled. 


An Overview of the Different Categories of Impairments Listed in the Blue Book


The Blue Book covers a wide range of impairments, which are divided into two parts: Part A for adults and Part B for children. These parts are further divided into 14 categories, encompassing various medical conditions and disabilities. The categories include:


  1. Musculoskeletal System
  2. Special Senses and Speech
  3. Respiratory System
  4. Cardiovascular System
  5. Digestive System
  6. Genitourinary Disorders
  7. Hematological Disorders
  8. Skin Disorders
  9. Endocrine Disorders
  10. Congenital Disorders that Affect Multiple Body Systems
  11. Neurological Disorders
  12. Mental Disorders
  13. Cancer (Malignant Neoplastic Diseases)
  14. Immune System Disorders


Notably, each category contains specific listings of medical conditions with their diagnostic criteria, which can be used by the SSA to determine the applicant’s eligibility for disability benefits.


Applicants May Still Qualify for SSDI or SSI Benefits With Non-Listed Disability


Your medical impairment is not listed in the SSA’s Blue Book. Does that mean you are entirely out of luck when it comes to applying for SSDI or SSI benefits? The answer is “no”—you may still qualify for Social Security disability benefits even if you have an unlisted condition. Though doing so can be more challenging. 


The SSA will consider the severity of the applicant’s impairment, its impact on their ability to work, and the duration of the disability. If an applicant’s condition is deemed to be of equal severity to a listed impairment, they may be eligible for benefits under the “medical equivalence” principle.


Beyond that, the SSA will also evaluate an applicant’s residual functional capacity (RFC). Broadly defined, an RFC is an assessment of the person’s remaining ability to perform work-related tasks despite their disability. If the applicant’s RFC is significantly limited, they may still be considered disabled and eligible for benefits.


Medical Documents and Records are Essential to Get Social Security Disability Benefits


Applying for Social Security disability benefits through SSDI or SSI is complicated. No matter your specific condition, it is an absolute must that you supply thorough medical documentation and records that support their disability claims. Along with other things, relevant medical documents and records may include:


  • Medical history, including the onset and progression of the condition
  • Results of physical examinations, laboratory tests, and imaging studies
  • Treatment history and response to therapy
  • Statements from treating physicians and specialists detailing the severity and limitations of the disability


Social Security disability applicants in Arizona should work closely with their healthcare providers to gather comprehensive and up-to-date medical records. Ensuring that all required information is submitted in a timely manner can increase the likelihood of a successful disability claim. If you have questions about medical documentation, an Arizona Social Security disability lawyer can help. 


Call Our Arizona Social Security Disability Lawyer Today


At Snow, Carpio and Weekley, PLC, our Arizona Social Security disability attorneys have the skills and legal expertise to help people put together the medical evidence that they need to bring a claim. If you have specific questions about your rights or your options, our team will help. Call us now at (877) 370-5788 or connect with us online for a free appointment with a legal advocate. Our law firm provides SSDI and SSI representation in Phoenix, Tucson, and across Arizona. 


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