A lot of people struggle with the decision to file for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), and there’s a ton of misinformation out there that can make that decision even harder.
One common misunderstanding is the purpose of the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) “Blue Book” or listing of impairments. Many people mistakenly believe that your condition has to be on that list in order for you to meet SSA’s definition of what it means to be disabled. That’s simply not true.
What you need to know
Having a listed disability can make your claim easier, but not having a condition on the list won’t prevent you from receiving benefits. Many different medical and psychological conditions that can be disabling don’t appear on the list. So, what’s the purpose of the list in the first place? If you happen to have a listed condition and meet the exact requirements SSA has established for the condition to be considered disabling, then SSA can approve your claim without considering any other factors, including your age, education, prior work history or residual functioning capacity.
However, as you might expect, only a very few applicants fall into those categories. The vast majority of people who are approved for SSDI benefits do so because they have several medical conditions, listed or unlisted, and the combination of the limitations caused by those conditions is enough to “meet or equal” the limitations of a listed condition. For example, “primary headache disorders,” like migraines, aren’t a listed condition – yet SSA acknowledges that they can be disabling.
To qualify for SSDI, you essentially have to show that – whatever your exact condition – the following:
- You have a medically determinable impairment that can be diagnosed and documented.
- Your impairment prevents you from engaging in substantial gainful work activity.
- Your condition has lasted or can be expected to last at least a year or be terminal.
Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance is a complicated process and a denial can mean a lengthy appeals process. It’s far better to seek out legal assistance with your claim as soon as possible. That way, you stand the best chance of submitting error-free applications and presenting your case in a way that maximizes your chances of approval.