Social Security Blue Book (Updated for 2023)

The Social Security Blue Book is the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) listing of disabling impairments. The Blue Book’s official title is “Disability Evaluation Under Social Security”. The Blue Book lists specific criteria that under which claimants who suffer from a disabling condition can qualify for Social Security disability benefits. To find out if you qualify, check the Blue Book listing for a specific disability or disabling condition.

Its online form is continuously updated, but the hardcopy version. The SSA's Blue Book is divided into adult and childhood listings of various impairments, which are disabling conditions. It includes general information, evidentiary requirements, and impairment overviews. There are numerous disabling medical conditions that are included in the Blue Book which are eligible for Social Security disability benefits through Social Security Disability Insurance as well as Supplemental Security Income.

What is the Social Security Disability Blue Book?

The SSA's Blue Book which used to be called the Disability Evaluation Under Social Security, lists impairments the Social Security Administration (SSA) considers severe enough to prevent someone from working and lays out the medical criteria for determining if that person can receive disability benefits.

The Blue Book is found completely online at the SSA’s website. It has the list of conditions that meet the disability standards and the evidence that officials weigh in when evaluating claims based on them. It also lets you know the kinds of paperwork, examinations and other evidence needed when your disability claim for that condition is evaluated.

If your medical condition is in the Blue Book, it should meet the SSA's definition of disability which is that you illness or injury prevents you from performing "substantial gainful activity" which means being paid to work for at least 12 months or that will likely result in your death.

Just being diagnosed with a condition listed in the Blue Book does not qualify you automatically for SSDI or SSI. You need to provide details of your symptoms and test results that prove your medical condition is severe enough to cause you to be disabled.

Even though the language used in the Blue Book may be hard to understand can be used help you and your doctors in determine if your medical condition meets the requirements to receive disability benefits and help you prepare your application.

What Is In the SSA's Blue Book?

The Blue Book is made up of different sections, each filled with specific disabling conditions that qualify for disability benefits. These sections include:

  • 1.00 Musculoskeletal Disorders
  • 2.00 Special Senses and Speech
  • 3.00 Respiratory Disorders
  • 4.00 Cardiovascular System
  • 5.00 Digestive System
  • 6.00 Genitourinary Disorders
  • 7.00 Hematological Disorders
  • 8.00 Skin Disorders
  • 9.00 Endocrine Disorders
  • 10.00 Congenital Disorders that Affect Multiple Body Systems
  • 11.00 Neurological Disorders
  • 12.00 Mental Disorders
  • 13.00 cancer (Malignant Neoplastic Diseases)
  • 14.00 Immune System Disorders

How the Blue Book Impacts the Disability Claims Process

The Blue Book contains various disabling conditions that can qualify you for Social Security disability benefits. These listings are designed to help you better understand the information that you need to supply with your disability claim to prove that you are totally disabled per the guidelines that are supplied by the strict definitions set forth by the SSA.

Besides these impairment listings, the Blue Book contains detailed information about the Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Insurance programs, which are both disability benefit programs. It also explains the process used for disability determination decisions.

While having a condition that meets the specific criteria specified for your specific condition doesn’t guarantee that you will be approved for benefits, it does establish that you have suffered a disabling condition long enough to have your claim considered by the SSA.

When deciding to determine if you are awarded benefits, the SSA will work to determine the severity of your condition based on your provided documentation. Understanding the Blue Book listing and its expectations for benefits approval is essential for a successful claim. The Blue Book criteria will help you understand what evidence and documentation you need to support your claim and improve your odds of having your claim approved.

How the Blue Book Impacts Your Claim

The Blue Book has very specific criteria for disabling conditions and the requirements that must be met to gain approval based on the Blue Book. The Blue Book is written in a very complex and technical nature because it is designed for medical and Social Security disability professionals rather than the public.

Working with your physician or a disability attorney can help you improve your odds of being awarded benefits because they can understand the technical requirements of each condition and help you gather the evidence that you need to support your claim. While it is not guaranteed, if your condition meets the specific criteria set forth in the Blue Book the odds of approval are improved significantly. This proves that you do have a disabling condition that meets the SSA guidelines outlined in the Blue Book and that has existed long enough to be considered for benefits.

If your claim is denied benefits, this is beneficial when appealing the denial and if you pursue a medical-vocational allowance to get approved for monthly disability benefits. The Blue Book is very specific in its criteria listings for different medical conditions, so you will know if your condition meets the criteria established to be considered disabled for that specific medical problem. It also indicates which tests are needed to confirm diagnosis and severity of your condition. Here is more information on how the Blue Book can help your claim.

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Because the Blue Book is very technical, you should consult with your physician or a disability attorney or disability advocate for help understanding what it means in regards to disability qualifications.

The terms are complicated and detailed, so most people who read the Blue Book may be confused by its content. It was written to target medical professionals and Social Security disability experts, so someone in that field can help you with your claim and help you understand the requirements set forth by the specific listing that meet the criteria of your medical condition.

The professional who helps you can also make sure you gather the proper documentation and evidence that you need to support your claim and prove that you are disabled.

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