Social Security Claims for Disability

If you have a Social Security Disability claim, you probably have already visited the Social Security Administration website to determine if your situation will likely be approved. Just reviewing the information on the website is a good indicator of the complexity of the process.

Feeling a little “blue”?

The Blue Book is the Social Security Administration’s publication that lists and defines the impairments that qualify an individual for disability benefits. The Blue Book has been prepared to provide physicians and other health professionals with an understanding of the disability programs administered by the Social Security Administration. It explains how the program works, and the kinds of information a health professional can furnish to help ensure sound and prompt decisions on disability claims. It lists those impairments that may determine whether a person can work or not.

The Blue Book defines disability as “…the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.”

Categories of impairments

There are 14 categories of impairments including:

  • Musculoskeletal system
  • Special senses and speech
  • Respiratory system
  • Cardiovascular system
  • Digestive system
  • Genitourinary impairments
  • Hematological disorders
  • Skin disorders
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Impairments that affect multiple body systems – non-mosaic down syndrome is only subcategory
  • Neurological
  • Mental disorders
  • Malignant neoplastic diseases
  • Immune system disorders

Under these 14 categories there are 122 subcategories related only to adults. There are 15 categories and 82 subcategories for children. One would expect that every impairment, which might affect the ability to work, would be covered in this document, but this is not necessarily the case. For example, one area is that is neither listed as a category nor a subcategory is chronic pain. The only exceptions are when chronic pain is associated with joint disorders such as arthritis or lumbar spinal stenosis that result in the inability to ambulate effectively. Anyone suffering from chronic pain from regardless of the cause knows that it certainly can be a determining factor in the ability to work.

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