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What if an SSDI applicant doesn't meet a 'Blue Book' listing?

This space has attempted to discuss many of the impairment listings in the so-called 'Blue Book' maintained by the Social Security Administration (SSA). This publication contains the basic requirements that, if met, will qualify an applicant with that particular disorder for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits as long as the other baseline requirements are met (such as having paid into the SSDI system through past work deductions). However, these listings are very specific, and many, if not most, New Jersey applicants will not meet them. This does not mean they are not eligible for SSDI, however.

If an applicant does not have an impairment that meets one of the listings in the 'Blue Book,' the SSA will try to determine an applicant's eligibility by looking at his or her past work history and whether the disability claimed prevents the applicant from continuing that type of work. To do this, the SSA will look at the applicant's work history for the prior 15 years and that the applicant was engaged in long enough to have learned that job.

When deciding whether a disability prevents an applicant from engaging in work like that done in the past, the SSA will look at both how the applicant, specifically, did his or her work, and how that type of work is generally done in the U.S. economy. The applicant will need to provide information about his or her duties in past jobs and whether there were any changes that occurred in how those duties were performed due to the applicant's medical condition. To determine if work can be done as it is done in the national economy, SSA will use government publications and other reliable sources about the general nature and duties of those jobs throughout the country.

If the SSA decides the applicant can't do his or her past work, it will move on to whether he or she can adjust to doing different work. We may discuss the specifics of this process in a future post, but suffice to say, the steps involved in receiving SSDI when an applicant does not meet a listing in the 'Blue Book' can be complex and lengthy. New Jersey residents who are unable to work due to a disability may wish to consider contacting an experienced disability attorney.

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