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Social Security Disability Sequential Evaluation Steps

Step Three of the Five Step Sequential Evaluation Process Disability Examiners Use to Allow or Deny Your Application for SSI and Social Security Disability Benefits...


  Here's a little graphic of the five step sequential evaluation process

  1. Do you have a condition that meets or equals a listing? 

The SSA publishes a book called Disability Evaluation Under Social Security. This book which is periodically updated and reprinted every two years or so is commonly referred to as “the Blue Book” or the “Listings” book. A better name would be “the SSA disability bible” because this book is referred to many times each day by disability examiners who are trying to reach decisions on claims. This book gives a listing of impairments broken down into 14 different body systems, as well as provides guidelines on children’s impairments. It provides descriptions of impairments and highlights the objective medical requirements that must be satisfied in order to conclusively establish disability under SSA rules.

In many ways, the Blue Book makes deciding a disability claim much easier for an examiner. For instance, if a claimant alleges disability based on the fact that he has to go three times a week to receive dialysis treatments because he has chronic renal disease, then the DE knows that such a condition “meets a listing” because it is stated in this blue book under body system "genito-urinary", section 6.02. And if the condition “meets” a listing, the examiner can stop development at that point and issue a favorable decision and “allow” your claim.

The listings in this Blue Book are available onlinefor anyone to review so you can check to see if your condition is listed in it and then learn what the examiner will be looking for in order to approve your claim. In fact, the book is published with a foreword that it has been prepared for physicians and other health professionals so they can help social security reach sound and prompt decisions on disability claims.

One way you can use the book, even if you are not a doctor, is to take a look to see if your condition is listed. For example, let’s say you suffer from asthma and have had several attacks with it. If you check under the Respiratory Body System under Section 3.03 (page 57 of the January 2005 edition), you will be able to read in those three paragraphs exactly what is required to get disability benefits if you have severe asthma.

So if your condition meets the criteria specified in this Blue Book under the Listing of Impairments, then your claim will be allowed at this step in the evaluation process (based on the medical evidence in your file which proves that you actually have the condition and any symptoms associated with it).

If, however, your condition does not “meet” such a listing as specified in this 285 page book, then you may still qualify for benefits if you are able to get past the next two steps in the sequential evaluation process.

Social Security Administration Information on the Five Step Sequential Evaluation Process

Tags: sequential evaluation social security disability disability benefit Ddisability claim disability determination advocate question representative attorney disablity insurance disablity dissability

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