The Blue Book is the Social Security Administration’s listing of disabling conditions that can qualify disability benefits. The SSA's Blue Book is formally titled “Disability Evaluation Under Social Security.” The SSA Blue Book contains lists of the qualifying conditions and criteria that claimants applying for disability benefits may be experiencing. To find out if you qualify, consult the Blue Book listing for the condition you are experiencing.
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What is in the Blue Book?
The Blue Book is broken into two sections, Adult Listings (Part A) and Childhood Listings (Part B). Each has listings with different impairments, or disabling conditions. Each condition listed explains an overview of the impairment, what symptoms or diagnosis qualify, as well what evidence, test results and documentation that is needed to qualify. The conditions that are laid out in the Blue Book are eligible for both Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplement Security Income (SSI).
In both the Adult Listings and the Childhood Listings, the conditions are divided into groups based on the major body systems. These include the Musculoskeletal System, Special Senses and Speech, Respiratory Disorders, Cardiovascular System, Digestive System, Genitourinary Disorders, Hematological Disorders, Skin Disorders, Endocrine Disorders, Congenital Disorders that Affect Multiple Body Systems, Neurological Disorders, Mental Disorders, Cancer (Malignant Neoplastic Disease), and Immune System. You can qualify for more than one listing in the Blue Book.
The Blue Book is available online and is regularly updated. There, you can also find general information on applying for disability benefits as well as evidentiary requirements and even a video series on the disability claims process. The general information section gives an overview of the application process as well as answers some questions on the different program. The evidentiary requirements explains different medical evidence required by the SSA. The video series also explains the application process in a series of videos.
Understanding the Disability Blue Book
The Blue Book is a guide for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to use when evaluating the disabilities of applications for social security disability benefits. It is available online for anyone to use.
The Blue Book has two sections, one of which is Adult Listings (Part A) and the other is Childhood Listings (Part B). Each of the listings has different impairments, or disabling conditions. Each of the medical conditions on the listings provides the following:
- an overview of the impairment;
- what symptoms or diagnosis qualify for disability benefits;
- what evidence, including test results and documentation are required to qualify for disability benefits.
In both the Adult and the Childhood Listings, the medical conditions are divided into precise groups linked to the major body systems. These include the following;
Musculoskeletal System, Special Senses and Speech, Respiratory Disorders, Cardiovascular System, Digestive System, Genitourinary Disorders, Hematological Disorders, Skin Disorders, Endocrine Disorders, Congenital Disorders that Affect Multiple Body Systems, Neurological Disorders, Mental Disorders, Cancer (Malignant Neoplastic Disease), and Immune System. You can qualify for more than one listing in the Blue Book.
Many conditions, like diabetes aren't listed impairments in the Blue Book. To prove that you're disabled even though your medical condition is not listed in the Blue Book, you must meet the SSA's definition of disability.
This means your medical condition that shows you are disabled must be supported by medical reports provided by your doctor and you must be able to prove your medical condition won’t allow you to work for at least 12 months.
Social Security Listings
These are found in the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book.
This covers disorders of the skeletal spine (vertebral column) or of the upper or lower extremities that affect musculoskeletal. The skeletal spine refers to the bony structures, ligaments, and discs making up the spine.
Special Senses and Speech
This listing covers visual disorders which are abnormalities of the eye, the optic nerve, the optic tracts, or the brain that may cause a loss of visual acuity or visual fields. A loss of visual acuity limits your ability to distinguish detail, read, or do fine work. 2.09 covers the loss of speech due to any cause, with the inability to produce, by any means, speech that can be heard, understood, or sustained. Hearing loss is also covered in this listing.
This listing evaluates respiratory disorders that cause an obstruction to the moving of air out of and into the lungs. This includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis and pneumoconiosis , asthma, cystic fibrosis, and bronchiectasis.
This listing covers disorders that affect the correct functioning of the heart or the circulatory system which includes arteries, veins, capillaries, and the lymphatic drainage). The disorder may be congenital or acquired.
This covers disorders of the digestive system such as gastrointestinal hemorrhage, liver) dysfunction, inflammatory bowel disease, short bowel syndrome, and malnutrition.
This listing includes genitourinary disorders which may result in glomerulonephritis, hypertensive nephropathy, diabetic nephropathy, chronic obstructive uropathy, and hereditary nephropathies.
This listing includes non-malignant (non-cancerous) hematological disorders, like hemolytic anemias, disorders of thrombosis and hemostasis, and disorders of bone marrow failure. These disorders interfere with the normal development and functioning of the white blood cells, red blood cells, platelets, and clotting-factor proteins. Malignant (cancerous) hematological disorders, like lymphoma, leukemia, and multiple myeloma are covered under this listing too.
This listing covers skin disorders that may originate from hereditary, congenital, or acquired pathological processes. Ichthyosis, bullous diseases, chronic infections of the skin or mucous membranes, dermatitis, hidradenitis suppurativa, genetic photosensitivity disorders, and burns are evaluated.
Hormonal imbalances caused by endocrine disorders are covered under this listing. This includes health problems due to disruptions caused by the major glands of the endocrine system which are the pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, adrenal, and pancreas.
Congenital Disorders that Affect Multiple Body Systems
This listing covers non-mosaic Down syndrome which is a genetic disorder caused by the presence of three copies of chromosome 21 in all of the victim’s cells. People suffering from non-mosaic Down syndrome could also have poor vision, congenital heart disease and hearing problems. This condition is automatically classed as a disability.
This listing covers epilepsy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, coma or persistent vegetative state (PVS), and neurological disorders that cause motor function disorganization, bulbar and neuromuscular dysfunction, communication impairment, or a combination of limitations in physical and mental functioning such as early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
There are 11 categories of mental disorders covered under this listing which include
- neurocognitive disorders;
- schizophrenia spectrum,
- other psychotic disorders;
- depressive, bipolar and related disorders;
- intellectual disorder;
- anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders such as autism spectrum disorder; neurodevelopmental disorders; eating disorders, trauma- and stressor-related disorders.
Cancer (Malignant Neoplastic Diseases)
All cancers except certain cancers associated with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection are evaluated under this listing.
Immune System Disorders
All immune system disorders that cause dysfunction in one or more parts of the immune system are covered under this listing. The dysfunction may be due to problems in antibody production, impaired cell-mediated immunity, a combined antibody/cellular deficiency, impaired phagocytosis, or complement deficiency.
How to Use the Blue Book for Your Claim
The Blue Book can help you establish if you medically qualify for disability benefits. To be sure you meet the guidelines for the condition you are experiencing, it is best to review the listing with your doctor. The Blue Book was written for medical and disability professionals, so some listings are complex. Some listings require specific results from tests and examinations, which your doctor will be able to assist you with. By review the listing with your doctor, you can ensure you will have enough medical evidence to qualify. But, even if you medically qualify, you will still need to meet the technical qualifications.
Getting Help From a Lawyer With the Blue Book
Due to the complexity of the Blue Book, you should review the listings with a medical professional or a disability attorney. Experienced lawyers can help you understand the listing’s terms and medical jargon.
Because they have handled Social Security disability cases before, they will be well versed in what medical evidence and documentation will be needed to support your claim. To consult with a Social Security disability attorney, complete the Free Case Evaluation above!