How to Use the Blue Book to Get Approved for Disability

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Social Security has three special lists of conditions and impairments. These are called: The Blue Book Listing of Impairments, The Social Security Rulings, and the Compassionate Allowance List.

These lists are not terribly easy to read or understand. However, some of our readers have found these lists to be a useful tool to help them get approved more easily or more quickly.

If your condition is not on any of the Social Security lists…. don’t worry! There are plenty of other ways to get approved.

If you can’t find your condition, or the Blue Book is making your head swim… also don’t worry! There are plenty of other less confusing ways to help improve your case.

If you wish to be a fearless and intrepid reader-of-policies, here’s where you can learn all about the Blue Book, Rulings, and Listings:

AM I ON A LIST?

There are three places you can check: The Blue Book, The Compassionate Allowance List, and the Social Security Rulings. How To Find Out if Social Security Has Any Special Policies for Your Condition

You may also find this helpful: Where to Find Common Illnesses in the Social Security Blue Book

OH MY GOD! THE BLUE BOOK IS CONFUSING!

It sure is. How to Read and Understand the Social Security Blue Book

HOW CAN I USE THESE LISTS TO GET APPROVED?

Social Security will automatically screen your condition and decide if they think you match the criteria on any of these lists. If you want to take extra steps to increase your chances of a good decision:

🌟 Four Strategies for Using the Social Security Blue Book & Rulings

🌟 How to Use the Social Security Ruling for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

🌟 How to Get Approved Using the Compassionate Allowance List

SUCCESS!

Readers who took special steps to use these lists during different parts of the process:

🌟 Rose Fills Out an Application

🌟 Jamesia Visits The Doctor

🌟 Zinnia Asks for a Letter

🌟 Susan Updates Her Records

SAMPLES

A collection of doctor’s letters that use language from the Social Security Blue Book or Social Security rulings:

🌟 Doctor Lapp’s Amazing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Disability Letter

🌟 Psychologist’s Letter about Memory and Cognitive Problems

🌟 Zinnia’s Super Great Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Letter

🌟 Ten Fantastic Letters: Strokes, Bipolar Disorder, Neurological Disorders (The first three letters include information on the Blue Book. The last seven letters are not about the Blue Book, but they are still great letters).

LEARN MORE

🌷 This page is part of the free online guide: The Sleepy Girl Guide to Social Security Disability 

🌷 Art on this page by Robin Mead and Elizabeth D’Angelo.

🌷 Page Updated: 7/1/19

🌷 Please comment below with stories, ideas, questions or suggestions. Please let us know if any links on this page stop working. If you found this page helpful, please share it with others by pressing one of these magic little buttons: 

35 thoughts on “How to Use the Blue Book to Get Approved for Disability”

  1. Thanks for writing this. Most google searching re: ssdi/ssi pop lawyers up.
    I have 3 conditions where medi al records as well as dr completed RFC that meet criteria of blue book for osteonecrosis (bone death- dr stated I cant walk more than 50 feet without stopping, cant stand longer than 5 minutes, cant use public transportation alone, cant return to old job nor do any type of work. I need both knees replaced.
    I watched my 39 yr old husband die, did CPR and removed him of life support and have anxiety and PTSD that RFC states, persistent anxiety, nightmares, inability to be around people, etc. They both fit at least 4 of 5 criteria where only 2 or 3 are needed.
    My question is:
    I met and exceeded the criteria as stated in blue book for 3 conditions. Could I still get a denial?

    Thanks!!!

    Like

      1. I just took them all out, but every time you are posting, your name is appearing again 🙂 You are welcome to keep posting but you might want to remove your last name…

        Like

            1. One more time, can you go through and take out everything but the story and the follow up explanation. It’s in several places apparently. I won’t say anything else

              Like

  2. 7.20.19–another update:

    husband, jack’s worldwide history making case of having 2 diseases NEVER found: lyme disease and lewy body dementia, NEVER was written up by the medical experts involved in his 1st brain autopsy.

    VERY disappointing since i worked so hard on writing up 29 pages of his medical history to be used PRIOR to having my 1st knee replacement surgery.

    i also gave a very large charitable gift to duray research foundation for giving me peace of mind what JACK HAD thru scientific info rather than what drs. told me. he died 2 nights after being diagnosed with advanced lung/liver cancer! Never diagnosed prior to that night!!

    NEVER had any luck either getting the person who signed jack’s death certificate,DC, to AMEND his DC to what BOTH of his brain autopsies showed CONTRIBUTING factors to his death. she did NOT want to get involved!!! grrrr:

    lyme disease, bartonella/cat scratch disease (2 species), lewy body dementia, and a cluster of nematode parasitic worms having lyme disease inside of them!

    i’ve tried everything possible and got a lawyer involved too. he got conflicting info from both death examiner’s office & iowa’s dept. of health director, DOH, who told them THEY would FIGHT this and get iowa’s attorney general’s office, AG, would be involved in this also!!

    lawyer explained AG’s get trial drs. for $15,000 plus prep time $$; regular drs. $500 plus prep time, and around $500 misc. expenses. so that’s where i am today, 7.20.19.

    still not giving up, but very discouraged!!! life sucks!
    ************************************************************

    notified this morning that my middle brother, 67, passed away in his sleep from 3 types of cancer: pancreatic, abdomen, and colon. he was blessed to have 3 yrs. 4 months; they gave him 2 yrs.

    we lost another brother, 64, died 20 days ago in a freak accident! he was mowing entrance to their long farm lane where it’s a STEEP SLOPE. his rider lawn mower rolled over pinning him under and crushing him to death.

    his son, 40, died jan. 16 from his traumatic brain injury from 6 yrs. ago where he lost his memory and eventually lost the use of everything else. again, life sucks! your prayers are needed for my family on these huge 3 losses of my immediate family members.

    betty gordon, iowa widow/chronic lyme/bartonella patient 50 yrs. this xmas

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There is so much information here I don’t know where to start. My son was denied disability by a judge so now we have to start a new application. Is there a list of what you should always discus with your doctor at every visit to help with documenting their illness? my son has CFS, Fibromyalgia, Depression and spinal stenosis and has now been diagnosed with DM2. any help would be greatly appreciated

    Like

  4. I was able to get on state disability (Age, Blind, or Disabled) by recieving a psych eval that diagnosed me with social anxiety, generalized anxiety, avoidant personality disorder, and major depressive disorder. This psych eval was then sent as a medical record with my ssi application along with other medical records that show a history of anxiety and depression diagnoses. In the psych eval she wrote in depth about how I acted and how she saw my disabilities affect me, which I feel met the requirements of the Blue Book listings for anxiety and personality disorders. Do you think I’m likely to be approved quickly due to this? Thank you!

    Like

    1. Hi arya, sorry for the slow response. Thanks for sharing the story of getting on aged blind disabled Medicaid. A lot of people don’t realize it is possible to get on that before being approved for disability. May I ask what state you are in? How did you get the psych evaluation? Was it something the state sent you to or something you requested? I do hope that the psych evaluation will be a big help for you Keep us posted and I hope it is going well.

      Like

  5. On April 10th I have a video teleconference exam with a doctor at the Social Security administration building what am I to expect from that? I’m extremely nervous. 😬😳
    I also have an appointment on April 20th with one of their chiropractors and I have no idea why I also so what am I to expect that? By the way I suffer from major depression general anxiety c PTSD and insomnia I also have asthma but that’s all I have so I’m wondering why the chiropractor???
    Please, someone get back to me asap. I would greatly appreciate it.
    Thank you –
    Hope ~

    Like

  6. b, I think your comment is not visible now? So I don’t know if you can see my response? What a great story thank you for sharing. Please come back and let us know if you would like it posted, also we can remove your last name or your entire name if you wish. That is cool that someone conservative likes the site 🙂

    Like

    1. Thanks for writing this. Most google searching re: ssdi/ssi pop lawyers up.
      I have 3 conditions where medi al records as well as dr completed RFC that meet criteria of blue book for osteonecrosis (bone death- dr stated I cant walk more than 50 feet without stopping, cant stand longer than 5 minutes, cant use public transportation alone, cant return to old job nor do any type of work. I need both knees replaced.
      I watched my 39 yr old husband die, did CPR and removed him of life support and have anxiety and PTSD that RFC states, persistent anxiety, nightmares, inability to be around people, etc. They both fit at least 4 of 5 criteria where only 2 or 3 are needed.
      My question is:
      I met and exceeded the criteria as stated in blue book for 3 conditions. Could I still get a denial?

      Thanks!!!

      Like

          1. I don’t have the whole thing that I posted originally. Do you still have it? If so I don’t mind you posting it as long as take my name off of it.

            Like

              1. I think it looks good. I don’t see anything in it that could relate back to me. I did see a couple spelling errors in it but otherwise I think it’s good. I remembered you asked about the highlights last year. I literally printed the section of the bluebook listing I was referencing and highlighted the title and body of the text. I then took all my doctor notes and medical documentation and highlighted anything in it that documents the listing such as diagnosis or comments made by doctors or nurses. Highlighting the information is more of an attention grabber so the personnel and staff that review my paperwork can see everything quickly. Sort of attention grabbing and time saving.

                Like

  7. I want to say thank you for everything you posted on here. I filed for SSDI in September of 2018 and was approved November 21, 2018 (the day before Thanksgiving). I followed the advice and researched my condition in the Blue Book. I found that my condition met the listing exactly. I applied online then printed out a copy of the books listing and highlighted the condition I meet. I also highlighted my doctor’s comments as the related to the listing. I then mailed everything in to my local office. In my opinion I was approved within 60 days because I provided the listing I meet and the evidence supporting it. By doing a little more work on your end and having a complete application I think you can get through the process rather easily. To reiterate what I have read countless times though, it is hard to meet a listing word for word. If your condition doesn’t exactly meet the listing, get all the documentation and doctor notes that can show your condition it severe enough for benefits. The way I see it, the burden of proof is on you to prove your condition to them. No matter what don’t give up.
    BK, North Carolina Conservative

    Like

    1. Hi B. Thank you so much for writing

      We are delighted to hear that. Congratulations on your quick approval.

      Do you mind if I include your story up on the page above? It sounds like you did a great job with your application and this will definitely give hope to others.

      Also, I am curious what you mean that you highlighted the doctors comments? Did you write a letter about the comments? Or submit the records and underline or highlight certain parts? Or something else?

      I’m also wondering what North Carolina conservative means 🙂 that you are politically conservative?

      Like

      1. I would be honored for you to post it. I felt that I am so blessed to have had the guidance on your site and being approved so quickly that I should sort of give back to the other readers trying to work their way through the complicated maze. When I said highlight, I literally took a yellow highlighter and highlighted the blue book listings I met (title and listing) as well as the results from my tests in my medical records and the notes that my doctors wrote. Think of it as trying to catch their attention so to speak. I basically did all the leg work and truly with your website I just went through it all in about two or three evenings and had my package mailed to them in about a week. Definitely speeding things up in two ways: by filling out everything you can online and submitting, then printed a copy of everything I submitted online and put it with my tests, doctor notes, and the listing from SSA website. Basically I felt that if I proved everything in the listing and showed them the listings I was submitting evidence for, then I could more or less not only sway them in my favor but also not give them much ammunition for a denial ( I hope that makes sense?) Also, I kept a copy of EVERYTHING I mailed to them so I was prepared in case they “lost” any or all of it.
        I can understand why people freak out about the process. It seems long and seems like you never quit documenting stuff. It is probably even harder for someone who doesn’t meet a listing word for word because the preponderance of proof is theirs to bear. More documentation and more evidence is key to trying to prove your condition is equal to that of a listing.
        I hope all of this rambling makes sense. Let me know if you need me to clear anything else up.

        Like

      2. Oh and yes politically morally and ethically religiously and fiscally conservative. Probably didn’t need to put that on your post but I am so happy today!!! Happy Thanksgiving!

        Like

      3. Hey I got to thinking and maybe should not post everything until I actually start getting paid? Can you remove my post for now and once I get check in hand I will definitely post for you. I just wanted to say thank you for the guidance on your website. I know you help a lot of people.

        Like

        1. ok, I think it is not visible now? So I don’t know if you can see my response? What a great story thank you for sharing. Please come back and let us know if you would like it posted, also we can remove your last name or your entire name if you wish. That is cool that someone conservative likes the site 🙂

          Like

  8. thank you sleepygirl!! i didn’t say it took me 7 months to read every sheet & note the important things i found in my files looking for approved list of impairment sections APPLYING to my situations.

    also, many ERRORS in my files; SSDI used every one they found AGAINST me; so it’s vital you read everything they have on you PROMPTLY getting copied of all medical records as THEY HAPPEN; not months/years before you read these!!

    fyi, also the Arizona lawyer who quit me NEVER submitted a BRIEF that when to appeals council on my 1st case as he requested a COPY OF HEARING VERBAL COMMENTS; he never received this so didn’t submit a brief.

    when he quit me, he sent copies to ALL in ssdi process that he would NOT be asking for $$ for his time/expenses.

    so i requested a copy of hearing tape; they denied me/never got back to me either on this.

    so when the 2.5 yrs. WAITING PERIOD appeals council had for all cases coming to them, since they DIDN’T HAVE A BRIEF, they did NOT have to read thru my 2 to 3″ files!!!! they only had to read alj/admin law judge’s DENIAL, and denied me! grrrr!!

    so make sure your lawyers ARE submitting BRIEFS TO APPEALS COUNCIL in timely manner.

    since i didn’t have to pay a lawyer $6-7,000; i gave $1,000 to OPEN our 1st/only tick-borne center at columbia university, nyc.

    betty gordon, iowa activist

    Like

      1. I desperately need help getting disability! I have been trying for 6 years to get it and I can’t work so I have no income and I live alone. And I also found out that my work credits have or are getting ready to expire!
        I am just barely hanging on because of no income! I don’t have reliable transportation and the hearing was 45 miles from my house. The first hearing I was able to rent a car for the trip but my second appeal date was 11/23/2019 and I had no way to get there! I didn’t have a dime to my name, no ride and I don’t have any friends or family where I live. I know missing the hearing hurt me tremendously but it was unavoidable! I have to put oil in my car before I can drive anywhere and after about 10 miles or so, the oil light comes on again!

        I don’t know why I was denied the first time! The vocational person that locates jobs for someone in your condition said straight out that there weren’t any jobs that I could do!!
        I’m just sick over this. I can’t even afford the tests that I am sent for. I do get to my doctor regularly and sometimes I can afford my medication and sometimes I can’t.
        I’ve gone without electricity and water for over a week on two different occasions and I’m close to getting evicted from my home of 20 years!

        I’ve had one lawyer and a disability advocate group separately and they didn’t do anything to help me! Now I don’t have a lawyer or anyone to help me. I just happened to stumble across this site and when I saw you mentioned work credits that got my attention!

        Can you please at least give some advice or something because I’ve about given up hope. I’ve never had to live like i do right now in my life! And I am not asking for something for nothing! I worked my whole life to wind up almost homeless? I paid into social security, I pay my taxes and now I have literally begged them to approve me and they still denied me. I have degenerative disc disease, asthma, anxiety, depression and ADD, PTSD. and COPD.
        Thank you for reading my story. Carol

        Like

  9. I DID THIS around 15 years ago on my 2nd app since my lawyer quit me 4 yrs. into this; send me back both apps with 1st one at appeals council.

    lyme disease is shown in 14.08 from what i remember but that is it “lyme disease”; not expanded upon!

    i used list of APPROVED impairments and read EVERY paper in the 2-3″ files. i applied the specific section, etc. to each thing i found and submitted it prior to the hearing where I REPRESENTED MYSELF. I WON in around 2 weeks where “head judge” said it would be couple months to decide my case!!

    This is where it’s so important to read EVERY sheet in our files to see what was said, ALL THE ERRORS, and not said! grrr.

    You are a wonderful writer/organizer; I have enjoyed getting your blogs and have shared them frequently.

    Betty Gordon, Iowa lyme activist
    48 yrs. chronic lyme; 35 yrs. misdiagnosed by 40-50 drs; UNACCEPTABLE

    widow of JACK GORDON, whose brain autopsy made WORLDWIDE history 11.22.15 having 2 diseases never found together before in autopsy:

    LYME & LEWY body dementia causing visual/VIOLENT hallucinations like Robin Williams had.

    They also found a filarial nematode parasitic worm in his brain; worm had LYME TOO in it!! His case is to be published sometime in future in scientific medical journal. Dr. Alan MacDonald did this work and told me, “Betty, YOU will be the 1st co-author over us 3 medical folks: him, Paula Pierce who did initial brain cut slicing, etc., and Tom Grier, microbiologist, who was to write up and summarize all of our comments.

    NOT done to date since Alan retired FT due to his health. I’m now working with MARNA ERIKSON, Univ. of Minn, who is checking more brain slices for BARTONELLA, etc. WAITING for results now and then PRAYING his case study will be published!!! WISH ME LUCK.

    OFF TOPIC: trying to get his death certificate AMENDED showing brain autopsy results but since it’s been 3 yrs. this nov. when he died; 2 yrs. in nov. since brain autopsy results, they say it’s too late to do things unless I can get county or STATE CORONER to approve making changes. LAST RESORT; getting COURT ORDER to do this and adding him to IOWA’S CDC LYME STATISTICS! Looks like I will be forced to do the court order; WISH ME LUCK! Just wanted to share so much since you have many readers here.

    Like

    1. Betty this is a great story! Well done. Now I will have to change the section where I said none of our readers used the blue book for physical impairments. That is fantastic that you represented yourself and were successful. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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