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What is the Social Security Disability blue book?

Qualifying for Social Security Disability Insurance is a complicated and painfully slow process. If this is news to you, you should not let this information prevent you from seeking the benefits you need if you have a disability. In fact, there may be factors in your situation that would make the process go a little faster.

For example, if the medical condition you have is listed in the Social Security Administration's "blue book," your qualification process already passes one major requirement. Understanding the blue book and its listings may help you as you prepare your application for benefits.

How to use the information in the blue book

The real name of the blue book is the "Listing of Medical Impairments." These are conditions which the SSA has already decided automatically qualify an applicant for benefits as long as that applicant meets the other conditions of having a disability. The blue book categorizes the medical conditions, so you may find your impairment under these or other headings:

  • Immune disorders such as lupus or HIV/AIDS
  • Neurological disorders like Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis
  • Cardiovascular diseases such as chronic heart failure or heart transplant
  • Conditions related to your senses, for example if you have vision loss or cannot hear
  • Musculoskeletal ailments like degenerative discs or the loss of a limb
  • Digestive disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease or chronic liver disease
  • Blood disorders like sickle cell anemia and bone marrow failure
  • Respiratory conditions including COPD and asthma

Certain mental disorders like depression and autism are also on the list. However, just because the blue book names your impairment does not mean you are eligible for benefits. The blue book clearly describes the conditions under which the SSA considers a medical issue to be an impairment. For example, the SSA may require your condition to result in hospitalization a certain number of times, or you may have to show documentation of certain persistent symptoms.

If your condition is not in the blue book, this does not mean you are ineligible for disability benefits. However, it may mean you will have to do a little extra work to qualify. You may have to apply for benefits based on approved symptoms or collateral conditions. In either case, you may find that a skilled and experienced North Carolina attorney will be a welcome advocate as you gather the documentation you need to demonstrate your eligibility for disability benefits.

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