The third step in the 5-step sequential evaluation to determine if you qualify for social security disability benefits relates to the Listing of Impairments found in Appendix 1 of the Social Security regulations. The “Listings” outline just about everything that can impair a person from being able to work. If your impairment meets the exact language of one of the Listings, or equals them in terms of severity, it will be concluded that you meet a listing and social security disability benefits can be awarded without further consideration of Steps 4 and 5.
To meet a Listing, your condition would have to fall under any one of these Listings:
1.00 Musculoskeletal System
2.00 Special Senses and Speech
3.00 Respiratory Disorders
4.00 Cardiovascular System
5.00 Digestive System
6.00 Genitourinary Disorders
7.00 Hematological Disorders
8.00 Skin Disorders
9.00 Endocrine Disorders
10.00 Congenital Disorders that Affect Multiple Body Systems
11.00 Neurological Disorders
12.00 Mental Disorders
13.00 Cancer (Malignant Neoplastic Diseases)
14.00 Immune System Disorders
Each of these general body system sections have a general introduction which contains definitions of key concepts used in the section. Also, certain specific medical findings may be included in the introduction to a body system to establish a diagnosis or to confirm the existence of the impairment. Inside each of these general Listings, the condition is broken down further outlining what be found before you meet a particular Listing. Each listed impairment includes a set of medical criteria specific to that impairment. For example, under 1.00 Musculoskeletal System, a herniated disc or other disorder of the spine is broken down as follows:
1.04 Disorders of the spine (e.g., herniated nucleus pulposus, spinal arachnoiditis, spinal stenosis, osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, facet arthritis, vertebral fracture), resulting in compromise of a nerve root (including the cauda equina) or the spinal cord. With:
A. Evidence of nerve root compression characterized by neuro-anatomic distribution of pain, limitation of motion of the spine, motor loss (atrophy with associated muscle weakness or muscle weakness) accompanied by sensory or reflex loss and, if there is involvement of the lower back, positive straight-leg raising test (sitting and supine);
B. Spinal arachnoiditis, confirmed by an operative note or pathology report of tissue biopsy, or by appropriate medically acceptable imaging, manifested by severe burning or painful dysesthesia, resulting in the need for changes in position or posture more than once every 2 hours;
C. Lumbar spinal stenosis resulting in pseudoclaudication, established by findings on appropriate medically acceptable imaging, manifested by chronic nonradicular pain and weakness, and resulting in inability to ambulate effectively, as defined in 1.00B2b.
As you can see, the herniated disc in your back is not sufficient to meet a listing. There must be other documented objective findings by your doctor to meet the listing. Meeting a listing is not easy and good documentation is crucial to obtain social security disability benefits by meeting a listing.
In determining whether you qualify for social security disability benefits based on meeting a Listing, the Social Security Administration must identify the listing or listings which he or she has considered in a particular case if the issue of meeting or equaling a listing has been raised. Failure to do so is error.
If you don’t meet a Listing, does that mean you are not disabled? No, it only means that we move on to step 4 of the sequential evaluation – what is your “residual functional capacity.” Stay tuned for a later article in this series that discusses this step.
Although you do not need an attorney to apply for social security disability benefits, gathering the proper documentation to determine if you meet a Listing or even any other step of the process is often done best by an attorney who understands what is needed to qualify for social security disability benefits. Attorneys Lorrie Robinson and Matthew Noyes help clients gather the proof needed to qualify for social security disability benefits. In fact, they wrote a book on social security disability. They can be reached at 727-7896-8282 or by simply clicking here to schedule a free consultation.
PS This is the third part of a multi-part series on the Sequential Evaluation Process for Assessing Disability that Social Security Disability judges use to determine if you qualify for social security disability benefits. The first part — Is Claimant Currently Employed? can be found here and the second part of the series — Need for Severe Impairment can be found here.
PPS Attorney Matthew Noyes and Lorrie Robinson don’t charge you attorneys’ fees or costs unless they get you your social security disability benefits. What do you have to lose? Contact them today!