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How do you know if you qualify for Social Security Disability?

There's a semi-secret list that a lot of people don't know a thing about -- but it's something that you need to know if you intend on filing for Social Security Disability (SSD) enefits.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) keeps what is often called "the Blue Book" (named after the color the hardback copy used to be before the copy was available online) of "listed impairments."

Essentially, a listed impairment is a medical condition that is automatically considered disabling for Social Security's purposes -- as long as you have it to the extreme described in the Blue Book.

For example, under immune disorders, systemic lupus is a listed impairment. However, it isn't enough to simply have a diagnosis of lupus to qualify for disability. Instead, you must meet the specifics described in the list.

To gain an automatic approval for lupus, for example, you have to have at least one organ in your body affected by the disease and at least two other symptoms of the disease, like severe fatigue or fevers. Alternately, you must have repeated flair of lupus symptoms and either limited ability to care for your daily need, limited ability to function socially or limited ability to complete tasks due to problems with concentration or other mental difficulties.

Each listed impairment has similar criteria that can be used by disability examiners as a sort of checklist when they make decisions on claims.

However, there's another important thing you should know: You can still be approved for disability even if your medical condition isn't listed in the Blue Book. Social Security will examine all your conditions together. If the severity of your impairments combined equals the restrictions under a listed impairment -- even if no one condition you have is disabling on its own -- you will qualify for disability.

Naturally, whether or not you meet or equal a listed impairment is sometimes a subjective call. Doctors can disagree on whether or not a condition is mild, moderate or severe. If your impairment isn't listed, that's an additional complication on the way to approval.

When trying to meet or equal a listed impairment, it's very important that you give Social Security all the information you can about your medical conditions, general restrictions and problems functioning. The more information they have, the easier it is to be approved.

Source: FindLaw, "Medical Conditions that Qualify You for Disability Claims," accessed March 02, 2018

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