The Social Security Administration (SSA) maintains a list of medical conditions that automatically qualify as “disabling” under its rules. If your condition exactly meets the criteria shown on the Listing of Impairments and you meet the other qualification requirements, your claim will be approved.
This has led a lot of people to mistakenly believe that they don’t qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits unless their condition is listed or that they cannot qualify because their condition isn’t quite as severe as described in the listing. This simply isn’t true.
You can “meet or equal” a listed impairment
Here’s the reality: Most people do not meet the exact definition of “disabled” under a listed impairment, because those listings describe situations that are unquestionably disabling.
If you don’t exactly match a listed impairment, the claims examiner is then obligated to determine whether or not you “meet or equal” a listing once all of your medical conditions and symptoms are considered together. They will look at how your conditions affect your ability to work, attend school or take care of your daily needs.
Many disability claims are approved at this stage, especially if a condition doesn’t even appear on SSA’s list. It’s also common for people who have multiple comorbidities to be approved like this because the combination of their health problems is medically equivalent to one or more listed impairments.
There’s one important thing you need to remember
The takeaway from this is that you want to make sure you list every aspect of your condition that creates limitations for you because SSA doesn’t have to consider something that you don’t mention on your application. Even limitations caused by chronic pain can be factored into a decision.
The Social Security Administration’s disability evaluation process is very complicated, and trying to get through the application process is very intimidating for a lot of people. Experienced legal guidance can help you present your case and your evidence in a way that’s most likely to obtain positive results.