The Social Security Agency (SSA) acknowledges that certain medical conditions have the power to incapacitate and debilitate a suffering individual. The SSA compiled a list of these conditions in the Listing of Impairments–known also as the SSA Blue Book–wherein an individual automatically becomes eligible for disability benefits once he or she qualifies. These conditions include:
- Amputated leg
- Severe congestive heart failure
- Severe chronic kidney disease
- Terminal cancer
Once an individual meets the qualifications for the conditions set in the Blue Book, he or she can qualify for disability benefits regardless of age, education, gender, work experience, or whether the evaluating physician says the person has functional limitations, such as being unable to walk or lift objects. Even if an individual doesn’t meet the qualifications, he or she can still be eligible if he or she can convince the SSA that the condition is ‘medically equivalent’ to the listing.
How to meet or equal a listing
Meeting a listing means you have to present medical evidence that prove you have the same symptoms, lab results, and clinical signs as the listed impairment. The SSA Blue Book identifies the criteria for each listing to ensure that the agency uses accurate evaluation techniques and approves only the most severe impairments for disability.
If your condition does not meet all of the requirements for a specific condition in the SSA Blue Book, you may still receive benefits if you can show that your impairments equal a listing. This involves proving that your disability matches the duration and severity of a disability listing for a similar impairment. The SSA allows an impairment to equal a listing in one of three ways:
- Your impairment is listed, but the symptoms do not meet certain criteria identified in the SSA Blue Book. however, if you have other symptoms or conditions that relate to the listed impairment and that are of ‘equal medical value’ as the listing’s requirements, your condition can be considered equal to that listing, and you can qualify for benefits.
- Your impairment is not listed, but your symptoms are the same or almost similar to those of a certain disability listing. If the SSA deems your impairments ‘medically equal’ to those of another listing, your condition can be considered equal to the listing.
- You suffer from a number of impairments. Even if none of your symptoms or conditions meet an impairment listing individually, you can still meet a listing if your medical records show that your impairments are of ‘equal medical value’ to the required criteria for a listing.
Proving that your conditions equal a listing
You or your Michigan Social Security disability lawyer need to present your case to the SSA and prove how and why your impairments equal a specific listing. In addition, you need to supply medical evidence that supports your case. You and your lawyer can provide this evidence with the help of your treating physician. If your physician is willing to state on record that your symptoms make you just as impaired as someone who suffers from a particular listed condition, while also providing the medical evidence to back his or her claim, SSA will take your doctor’s opinion into serious consideration.
Ultimately, the responsibility of proving that your impairments equal a listing falls on you. That said, it can be difficult to identify which listing you might equal without professional help. Work with a Michigan Social Security disability lawyer to ensure you are guided along the process accordingly. For the best Social Security disability advice and representation in Michigan, get in touch with trusted law firms such as the Goldin Law Firm.
“Meeting” vs. “Equaling” a Social Security Disability Listing, AllLaw.com