THE SSA LISTINGS

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. https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/AdultListings.htm

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.

About Vaccines

Vaccines (July 23, 2021)

Vaccinations are traditionally used to prevent the devastating effects of those infectious diseases that defeat the immune system, the natural protection against invading foreign pathogens. Vaccines mimick the infection in a controlled way, provoke a protective immune response against the natural infection. The first immunization was used against smallpox over 200 years ago. Effective and safe vaccines are used word wide against a wide variety of infections: diphteria, tetatus, pertussis, measles, mumps, rubella, meningitis, hepatitis, rotavirus, influenza and many others. Some of the childhood vaccines are mandated in the US. Covid-19, the coronavirus causing the pandemic is new to humans, several approaches were tried word wide to develop a safe and effective vaccine. All Covid vaccines use part of the virus designed to induce a protective immune response but cannot cause infection. In the US, currently three vaccines are approved, two of them (the Pfizer and Moderna) use a messenger RNA technology as a direct approach to induce antibody production and the Jansen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine uses as adenovirus vector.  

One of the difficult legal question is whether Covid vaccines can be mandated nationwide as many childhood vaccines are. The Supreme Court’s decision Jacobson v. Massachusetts 197 US 11 (1905) has been the precedent used for the state’s right to mandate vaccinations over an individual’s right to refuse. All currently available COVID-19 vaccines are distributed under a Federal Drug Administration’s “emergency use authorization” power. The FDA may authorize unapproved medical products for use on an emergency basis to prevent life-threatening conditions caused by biological threats, provided certain criteria are met and there are no adequate, approved, and available alternatives. (12 U.S.C., § 21 U.S.C. § 360bbb-3(e).) One of these criteria is that individuals must be informed that they may refuse a vaccine made available under an emergency use authorization. (21 U.S.C. § 360bbb-3(e)(1)(A)(ii)(III).) 

Certain medical conditions and sincere religious objections provide exceptions from mandatory vaccination. The medical conditions are notable for abnormalities of the immune system and diseases that can cause immunosuppression thus interfering with the immune response and may lead to complications. It is sufficient that a medical doctor indicate their patient is exempt.