Listing of Impairments
The Social Security Administration has a Listing of Impairments that is used to judge the severity of the disability. This can be found in SSA Publication No. 64- 039, Disability Evaluation Under Social Security. This booklet should be in the office of every physician who does disability evaluations of any kind. The system is not complicated, but it is nit- picking. Leaving one finding out of a report can cost a patient his or her benefits. The “Listing of Impairments” is divided into fourteen body systems or groups of disorders. Within each group, there are specific diseases or disabilities. For each disability there are specific problems that must be present for the claimant to “meet listing.”
An example of a commonly used disability listing is 1.05 Disorders of the Spine:
1.05C. Other vertebrogenic disorders (e.g., herniated nucleus pulposus, spinal stenosis) with the following persisting for at least 3 months despite prescribed therapy and expected to last 12 months. With both 1 and 2:
1. Pain, muscle spasm, and significant limitation of motion in the spine; and
2. Appropriate radicular distribution of significant motor loss with muscle weakness and sensory and reflex loss.
Notice that all the sentences use “and.” In order to meet the listing, and automatically get disability, the records must show that the claimant has all the problems described. Most doctors who have documented the nerve damage described in number 2 don’t bother to note muscle spasm in the records. But without that notation, the patient has more difficulty getting benefits.