Social Security decides whether you are disabled using a five-step process called the Sequential Evaluation Process. The third step in the five-step process asks whether your conditions meets or equals a “Listing Impairment.” There are separate listings for children and adults, which can be found on Social Security’s website.
Meeting a Listing Impairment can be hard, but if you do meet a listing, you automatically qualify for benefits. Social Security has very strict standards about what illnesses or conditions meet which listing. Just because you have been diagnosed with a disease or condition, like COPD or congestive heart failure, doesn’t necessarily mean that you meet a listing. Your medical records and medical treatment need to demonstrate a certain level of severity, shown through diagnostic imaging, lab results, or other clinical testing, in order for you to be found disabled under a listing impairment.
Even if you don’t “meet” a listing, you can still be found disabled if you “equal” a listing. If you equal a listing, it means that the severity and effects of your impairment are so similar to a listing impairment that you should be found disabled under that listing. You can also equal a listing by showing that all of your conditions, when considered together, equal the severity of a listing impairment.
Since it is can be difficult to prove that you meet or equal a listing, consulting with an attorney can greatly improve your chances of having your claim approved under a listing impairment. It is also important to remember that even if you don’t meet or equal a listing, you can still win your Social Security Disability Claim.