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How Do I know if I am Disabled according to the SSA?

Many Social Security Disability claimants want to know if the Social Security Administration has a list of mental and physical health conditions or diseases which they consider automatically disabling. Yes, they do.

What is this list? It was a book that the Social Security Administration published which they called "Disability Evaluation under Social Security.” The book is also more informally called the “Blue Book” because it is actually blue.

Who uses the book? Claimants are allowed to preview the book online (Google SSA Blue Book), but it is primarily intended for disability examiners who make decisions at the initial application level and the reconsideration level, and Administrative Law Judges who preside over the Social Security Administrative Hearings.

How is the Blue Book organized?

The book has many sections, but claimants will be most interested in the sections for the disabling diseases and health conditions. In these sections the SSA lists the specific diagnosis and symptoms that a claimant needs to have to be considered automatically disabled and unable to work for at least 12 continuous months.

The Social Security Administration divides the listings into categories. There is an adult section and a child’s section. In the adult section there are the following categories: Musculoskeletal System (1.00), Special Senses and Speech (2.00), Respirator System (3.00), Cardiovascular System (4.00), Digestive System (5.00), Genitourinary Impairments (6.00), Hematological Disorders (7.00), Skin Disorders (8.00), Endocrine Disorders (9.00), Impairments that affect Multiple Body Systems (10.00), Neurological (11.00), Mental Disorders (12.00), Malignant Neoplastic Diseases (13.00), and Immune System Disorders (14.00).

One of the biggest criticisms of the SSA Listing of Impairments is that there are many conditions that do not appear in the listing which can be very debilitating. Others are listed but they are simply grouped with other listings.

My Condition is not listed in the SSA Blue Book

Many claimants peruse the listing and do not find their conditions or they realize their condition is not as severe as the condition listed. Many claimants have multiple health conditions which may not be listed but may, in their entirety, be so disabling that the claimant does not have the residual functional capacity to work.

If your condition is not on the list are you automatically determined “not disabled”. No, the Social Security Administration can also find you disabled using what they term a medical vocational allowance.

Determining Disability through a Medical Vocational Allowance

How is the medical vocational allowance decision made? First, the disability examiner will review the claimant’s medical records to determine if their condition is on the SSA Listing of Impairments. If it is not, the disability examiner will determine the claimant’s functional limitations to work. All of the information gathered by the DDS examiner is recorded on a residual capacity form.

The DDS examiner will then evaluate the work responsibilities the claimant had at their previous and current job and determine if they have enough residual functional capacity to do these jobs. If they do, the DDS examiner will deny their application. If they do not, the DDS examiner will evaluate whether the claimant could be retrained for new work based on their on their age, their education, and their job skills. If they are unable to retrain for new work they will be awarded either Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). This is called a medical vocational allowance.

Hiring a Social Security Disability Lawyer

If you would like a Social Security Disability attorney to review your claim you can fill out the FREE evaluation form and a disability advocate will call you to review your Social Security Disability Insurance claim or your Supplemental Security income claim. You can also call our office at 1-800-641-3759 to talk to someone now.