What If My Disabling Condition Isn't In the Blue Book?

Submitted by Eric on

The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a medical guide, known as the Blue Book, to determine whether or not a condition is severe enough to warrant disability payments. The Blue Book is also often referred to as the Listing of Impairments.

Each condition in the Blue Book lists specific criteria and symptoms that you must have to be approved.

However, with thousands of variations of conditions, it is impossible to list them all in one place. Therefore, only the most common and severe impairments are listed in the Blue Book.

While there are well over one hundred conditions covered in the Blue Book, many applicants can’t precisely meet any of them despite being severely disabled.

What does it mean to meet a listing in the Blue Book?

The various conditions listed in the Blue Book are deemed severe enough by the SSA to prevent you from functioning in a work setting.

If you have an illness that is listed in the Blue Book and you meet the criteria listed under that condition, you are said to “meet the listing” and will be considered disabled regardless of your education or work history.

For example, skin cancer is listed in section 13.03 of the Blue Book. There are many possible stages of skin cancer. The Blue Book listing includes sarcoma or carcinoma of the skin which has spread, or metastasized, beyond the regional lymph nodes.

It also includes carcinoma that has invaded under the skin, such as the skeletal muscle or bone. If this is the case for you, you will have “met” the disability listing and are likely to be approved for disability benefits.

What does it mean to equal a listing in the Blue Book?

Many individuals will not meet a listing exactly, but are still entirely disabled. For example, someone might experience a variety of symptoms from several illnesses that match the severity of one of the Blue Book listings.

If your condition does not match a listing exactly, it will need to be determined if your impairment is similar enough to the severity of another listed impairment to be considered “equal.”

There are several ways that your condition may be considered “equal” to another listing:

  • Your condition is not specifically listed in the Blue Book, but is similar in severity to another listing. For example, you might get frequent migraines, which is not a condition that is listed in the Blue Book. However, the effects of a migraine might be similar to non-convulsive seizures, which are listed in the neurological section 11.03 of the Blue Book. If you can prove that your condition is similar, or equal, in severity to another condition, you might be awarded disability benefits.
  • You have several “milder” conditions, which when put together are much more severe than each one alone. For example, you might have arthritis in your knees, high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes. While none of the conditions alone meets the criteria for disability, the combination of the three illnesses may be severe enough to “equal” another listing.

If your condition is not listed in the Blue Book, or if you suffer from a combination of conditions, it is possible that the severity of your illness may equal that of a listed impairment. As such, you would be considered disabled.

Should I hire an attorney or an advocate to help me prove that my condition meets or equals a listing in the Blue Book?

The Social Security Listing of Impairments, or the Blue Book, is a comprehensive guide to conditions that would grant you disability benefits. While very thorough, it is also extremely complicated to read if you do not have a medical background.

An experienced attorney or disability advocate understands the Blue Book and has the resources to seek a better understanding if needed. As such, he or she can help to ensure that you have all of the medical evidence required to meet or equal a disability listing.

Additional Resources

Blog comments

David smith (not verified)

I know a guy that was fired

I know a guy that was fired at the UB Postal service. How can he get ssdi when he was gainfully employed. It took ssa at least 4 years to approved his disability with back problems. But he was able to work. SSA occupational therapist said he can work. But he fought the system and won. But he just assaulted a man that weigh about 180 pounds man out his car and slam him on the ground when his disabilities were his back and neck. His restrictions are no lifting over 10 pounds, no bendin, no twisting no climbing. And check this out his doctor said he can come back to work but he has 45 minutes break and 15 minutes union break. He did some work for me like attaching my 7.2 surrounds sound system in the wall he did a lot of remodeling. He patch’s my wall he can run I think he’s well and fit. Here’s the good thing he’s selling his Oxycodone and he said on his text that he’ll shoot my thing so that I will wee wee squatting. He’s also a meth head. If anybody thinks that I can get his report it as fraudulent claim.

Wed, 01/31/2018 - 00:45 Permalink
VERONICA VIZCAINO (not verified)



Thu, 10/10/2019 - 13:11 Permalink

In reply to by VERONICA VIZCAINO (not verified)

Hi Veronica,

Hi Veronica,

Although there might not be an exact listing for your condition, there will be similar ones that an attorney will be able to help you find. The following link is to a free legal evaluation:


In the meantime, I would recommend gathering any sort of medical documentation that you have concerning your condition and any diagnosis. This will be important evidence in your case.

Fri, 10/11/2019 - 13:39 Permalink
Angela Siegesmund (not verified)

I suffer with a number of

I suffer with a number of diagnosed degenerative back and other muscular, skeletal conditions. I also suffer with high blood pressure and have had a couple of TIA's / mini strokes.
I have been forced to work only part time for the last several years due to the chronic, severe pain I have to endure as a result to the physical nature of my job, ( I am a self employed house keeper) however, in the past several weeks I have developed further medical /physical complications and worsening pain as a result of the degenerative, osteoarthritis of my spine which has forced me to miss many hours of work! My doctor and chiropractor have advised me that my condition is getting worse and that I need to seriously consider giving up my physical job as it is causing further damage to my already weakened spine!
Can I apply for disability while working part time? Will I even qualify to apply while working 20 or less hours per week? I cannot afford to quit working completely! No matter how painful / damaging it is as I cannot support myself with no income at all! What should I do?

Fri, 01/03/2020 - 07:27 Permalink

In reply to by Angela Siegesmund (not verified)

Hi Angela,

Hi Angela,

I am sorry to hear that. It is possible to work while receiving disability, however it could result in a partial/full reduction of your benefits if it is deemed that you have the ability to perform substantial gainful activity. I would actually recommend speaking with an attorney because they will be able to help you apply. If you would like to have your case evaluated for free by an attorney, fill out the information in the link below and you will be put in touch.


Fri, 01/03/2020 - 14:59 Permalink

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