Introduction to Social Security’s “Listings”

Eligibility Team
Researcher & Writer
January 23, 2016

Social Security Disability Insurance, a payroll-tax funded federal program, issues benefits to those workers who are disabled and cannot work. But unlike many disability funds, SSDI only pays for total disability—no short-term benefits are offered to applicants.

Once an applicant has satisfied the work requirements necessary to become eligible, the Administration will then determine if the worker also meets the federal government’s strict definition of total disability.

What is Total Disability according to Social Security?

Total disability means that one’s medical condition is so severe that it’s expected to last one full year or more, or result in death.

A 5-step process is implemented with assistance from the Disability Determination Services (DDS) who uses doctors and disability specialists in the state agency to consider all facts in an applicant’s case and verify medical records and conditions. This will determine whether or not one’s condition is severe enough to be considered disabled.

In an effort to determine the severity of a condition, the 5-step process will not only look at current work status and ability to perform previous work, but it will also take into account the Social Security Administration’s ‘Listing of Impairments.”

This Listing, although not the be-all end-all of disability eligibility, is as comprehensive as it gets. The Administration maintains a very inclusive list of medical conditions and circumstances that will automatically establish a person as disabled.

For each major body system, the Listing of Impairments describes conditions that are so severe that they prevent a person from performing any gainful activity.

Because most of the impairments listed are either permanent or likely to result in death, they automatically meet the Administration’s definition of disability and therefore allow benefits to be granted.

The Listing of Impairments is separated into two sections—Part A, which evaluates impairments in adults above the age of 18, and Part B, which includes additional criteria for conditions found in children under the age of 18.

To receive disability benefits from the Social Security Administration, the applicant must have a condition listed on this Listing of Impairments. If the condition is not listed, the Disability Determination Services must establish that the severity of the condition is equal to a medical condition that is actually included on the Listing of Impairments.

Eligibility Team
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Eligibility Team
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