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In our recent OneOp Military Caregiving webinar on Social Security and Disability 101 the presenter shared a key resource with participants from the Social Security Administration (SSA).

What is this gem of a resource for providers, caregivers, and individuals with disabilities? It’s the Social Security Blue Book, formally known as the Disability Evaluation Under Social Security. The Blue Book lists impairments SSA considers severe enough to prevent individuals from working and lays out the medical criteria for determining if that person can receive disability benefits.

SSA Blue Book

The Blue Book (only available online) is an important tool for the Disability Determination Services office which weighs applications for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The Blue Book is broken into two sections:

Each listing includes different impairments or disabling conditions. In both the Adult and Childhood Listings, the conditions are divided into groups based on the major body systems.

If a condition is listed in the Blue Book, it inherently meets SSA’s definition of disability. SSA defines disability as a person who cannot work due to a severe medical condition that has lasted or is expected to last, at least one year or result in death. Or the person’s medical condition must prevent him or her from doing substantial gainful employment – work that he or she did in the past, and it must prevent the person from adjusting to other work.

However, simply being diagnosed with a listed condition does not automatically qualify individuals for SSDI or SSI. The Blue Book specifies symptoms, test results, or other data that show an individual’s condition is acute enough to be genuinely disabling according to SSA and the types of records needed.

The Blue Book can be a valuable resource for providers, caregivers, and individuals with disabilities in determining if individuals meet the requirements to receive disability benefits and preparing one’s applications.

Additional Resources on Social Security Disability