Social Security Disability List of Impairments
I first became acquainted with the resource, "Disability Evaluation Under Social Security", when I became a disability examiner working on social security disability and SSI disability claims. The book, for those who are unaware, provides the approval criteria for a number of physical and mental impairments that may be considered disabling, provided that an individual's medical record documentation satisfies the requirements of a listing.
The blue book, as it is known, does not cover every single medical impairment. In fact, it leaves out quite a few conditions that many individuals would be surprised to learn had been left out. This, and the fact that many of the listings are very dry to read, and are layered in such a way that the information contained within can seem reminiscent of tax code (I have some familiarity with tax accounting), makes one wonder how it is that many individuals who are filing for disability can actually benefit from the use of the publication.
Of course, the reality is that the blue book was devised for disability adjudicators, individuals who make decisions on claims. And it's practical purpose outside of that is as a reference work for individuals who assist others on social security disability and SSI disability claims.
From what I understand (and I could be wrong but I've spoken to examiners and field office claims reps on this), there will be no further updates of the physical hard copy edition of the blue book, what some refer to as the social security disability list of impairments. Apparently, the last and final version of the blue book is the 2008 edition.
To the social security administration, this may make sense. Not having physical books to update means a savings in cost (though, honestly, they didn't get updated that often, just every few years or so). And the agency seems to think its ok for those who work within the system to view everything from a monitor screen. However, I take issue with this stance.
First of all, adult and child listings online leave out quite a bit of information regarding the body systems that the impairments listed in the manual are a part of. The hard copy provides helpful and explanatory prefaces and provides discussion of the terminology used by SSA specifically, and terminology which applies to medical evidence of record, including testing.
It may be argued this information has limited practical value for those who apply for disability. However, the chief function of the book is to serve as a resource for those make decisions on disability claims. In my opinion, all the extras you get with the physical hard copy version of the blue book are worth the cost of paper and printing.
Secondly, does anyone think that its more effective to read from a monitor when referring to listings? Using a hard copy version seems personally more convenient and far easier on the eyes. I can only wonder how many disability examiners in the future will have diminished eyesight as a result.
Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog
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