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Medical Evidence as Basis for Decision of "Disabled" -- Listing of Impairments

Excerpted from "Social Security Handbook". See the up-to-date, official Social Security Handbook at

607. Medical Evidence as Basis for Decision of "Disabled" -- Listing of Impairments

607.1 When is medical evidence alone enough to establish your disability?

Medical evidence alone may establish that you are disabled if:

  1. The evidence shows that you have an impairment as described in Part A of the Listing of Impairments (see §607.2); this is called "meeting" a listing; or

  2. The evidence shows you have an impairment or combination of impairments that is medically as severe as a listed impairment; this is called "medically equaling" a listing.

You must not be engaging in any substantial gainful activity.

607.2 How is the Listing of Impairments used to establish disability?

The Listing of Impairments (the listings) is set out in our regulations. The listings are in two parts. There are listings for adults (part A) and for children (part B). If you are age 18 or over, we use part A when we assess your claim and we never use the listings in part B. If you are under age 18, we first use the listings in part B. If the listings in part B do not apply, and your specific disease process(es) has a similar effect on adults and children, we then use the listings in part A. The listings are examples of common impairments for each of the major body systems that we consider severe enough to keep an adult from doing any gainful activity or, for a child under age 18 applying for SSI disability payments, causes marked and severe functional limitations. See appendix 1 of subpart P of part 404 of Social Security's regulations for the Listing of Impairments.

The listed impairments are of such a level of severity that we would consider a person whose impairment(s) meets or equals the Listing of Impairments to be unable to do any gainful activity, that is, the impairment(s) is expected to result in death, or to last for a specific duration, or the evidence must show that the listed impairment has lasted or is expected to last for at least 12 months in a row.

607.3 Is the diagnosis of an impairment in the Listing enough to establish your disability?

No. A diagnosis alone does not meet the guidelines of the Listing simply because it is the same diagnosis as a listed impairment. To be considered as "meeting" a listing, the impairment must have the symptoms, clinical signs, and laboratory findings specified in the Listing.

Note: If you are statutorily blind you do not need to show the inability to engage in substantial gainful activity to establish a period of disability (see §617).

607.4 What does this mean for children under age 18 applying for SSI?

We follow the same rules for a child under age 18 filing for SSI disability payments, to determine if the child's impairment(s) meets or medically equals a listing.

Last Revised: Jan. 30, 2006

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