Social Security recognizes that certain medical conditions are so serious that the only evidence you need to win disability approval is a firm diagnosis by your doctor, test results in your medical record and documentation showing ongoing treatment by your doctor or doctors.
A list of these serious medical conditions is contained in Social Security’s “Blue Book” of listed impairments. You can learn more about the listings at my website MeetaListing.com.
Social Security does not make it easy to meet a listing. Listing level impairments are, by definition, so debilitating that you would not be able to perform the duties of any type of work for at least a full year.
Terminal illnesses, like many cancers or incurable diseases fall within the listings. Other examples of listings include:
- congestive heart failure
- heart disease requiring a transplant
- advance multiple sclerosis
- kidney disease requiring dialysis
- kidney disease requiring transplant
- uncontrolled (brittle) diabetes
- uncontrolled seizure disorder
- Parkinson’s Disease
- AIDs with complications
- Schizophrenia uncontrolled by medications
There are dozens of other listing level conditions but this ought to give you an idea about the level of impairment SSA requires.
How to Convince SSA that You Meet a Listing
Our experience has been that the best way to convince Social Security that you meet a listing involves gathering all relevant medical evidence, then reaching out to your doctor for support in the form of a “listing checklist” or narrative report.
The listings are designed to be used by disability adjudicators who work for the state, and who function kind of like insurance claims adjusters. Because adjudicators are not judges, they are not trained or authorized to interpret medical records.
Instead, adjudicators are trained to look for lab reports and diagnostic reports that reference medical conditions. If they see what appears to be a serious medical problem, they are supposed to show the file to a medical consultant in the State Agency office for a “yes/no” about whether your case meets a listing.
Unfortunately many deserving, listing-level cases, fall through the cracks because the adjudicator either does not have all the medical records or because the records are not entirely clear. Remember that your doctor is focused on treating you, not generating records that will be more easily understood by a Social Security’s claims adjudicator.
We have had success getting listing level cases approved by finding and submitting medical records, asking treating doctors to complete a listing checklist form, and by drafting what amounts to a trial brief summarizing the medical record and arguing for an approval based on the listing.
Jonathan Ginsberg of our office has written a “how to” book about winning early (usually by meeting a listing) called the Disability Answer Guide, which you can learn more about here.
You Can Still Win Even if You Don’t Meet a Listing
As discussed above, Social Security makes it difficult to meet a listing. However, meeting a listing is not the only way to win disability benefits. As discussed here, there are 3 arguments we can use to win your SSDI or SSI claim.
If you are denied, do not give up – make sure to file your appeal within 60 days of the denial. If we can help you navigate the confusing waters of Social Security disability please call us at 770-393-4985.