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Social Security Blue Book

The Social Security Administration’s listing of disabling impairments, officially entitled Disability Evaluation Under Social Security, is also known as the Social Security “Blue Book.”

The Blue Book contains information for Social Security professionals about the specific criteria under which claimants suffering from a disabling condition can qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. Although it is continually updated in its online form, the print version of the Blue Book was last republished in September 2008. While it is therefore possible to obtain a paper copy of the Blue Book simply by requesting “SSA Pub. No. 64-039, ICN 468600, September 2008,” the print edition will not have been updated to reflect changes made since 2008. The most recent edition of the Blue Book is available online at http://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook.

The Blue Book is divided into both adult and childhood listings of various disabling conditions (called “impairments” by Social Security), general information, evidentiary requirements, and an overview of its listing of impairments. The Blue Book contains listings for a number of disabling medical conditions that can qualify an individual for Social Security Disability benefits under Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). These listings are intended to help the reader (assumed to be physicians and health professionals) to better understand the specific information that should be furnished with a Social Security Disability application in order to prove that the claimant qualifies as “totally disabled” under the strict definitions provided by the SSA. In addition to these impairment listings, the Blue Book also contains information about the SSDI and SSI benefits programs, and the processes by which disability determinations are decided.

Meeting the criteria specified in the Blue Book listing for a claimant’s specific condition does not guarantee that that individual will be awarded benefits, but simply establishes that that claimant has suffered from a disabling condition long enough to be eligible for consideration by the Social Security Administration. When deciding whether or not to grant Social Security Disability benefits, the SSA will also attempt to determine the severity of the afflicting condition (based primarily on medical records from acceptable medical sources and other documentation), while considering the claimant’s age, education, and work skills.

Readers of the SSA Blue Book will immediately be struck by the technical nature of the requirements for each listing. That is because the intended readership of the book is medical and Social Security Disability professionals. The technical nature of each listing can be a good reason to have a qualified Social Security lawyer or other professional disability representative assist you with assembling the medical records you need to support your claim.