The Listing of Impairments is an evidentiary compilation of signs and symptoms found at Appendix 1 of the Social Security disability regulations (20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1).  This compilation is published in the “Blue Book”. 

The Blue Book, formally titled 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. This information is available on the Internet.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has its own rules for disability, laid out in a 5-step sequential evaluation process.  The first 2 steps evaluate eligibility based on the applicant’s income and insurance status.  Steps 3, 4 and 5 focus on medical issues.  At step 3, the SSA assesses the applicant to see if they “meet” or “medically equal” one or more of the items in their “Listings”.  Every requirement listed must be satisfied to “meet” a Listing. To “equal” a Listing, the severity of impairment must be so similar to a listed impairment that the claimant should be found disabled under that Listing. 

If the claimant is found to be disabled at step 3, there is no further inquiry about their ability to work, they must be found disabled by law. However, for the majority of applicants, the disability evaluation continues. The inquiry is whether in spite of his/her disability the applicant is able to work at the substantial gainful level (SGA), as determined by Social Security. 

In conclusion, the appropriate Listing should be always searched first before evaluating and arguing the medical records, symptoms and signs and difficulties in daily functioning that prevent gainful work.

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