The Social Security Administration (SSA) attempts to establish eligibility for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits under a listed impairment or medical condition. Potentially disabling conditions are listed in the SSA’s Bluebook, or manual for evaluating medical conditions under SSA guidelines. If your medical condition doesn’t meet the requirements as listed in the Bluebook, the SSA is still required to take a closer look at your application and the documentation it contains.
If your medical condition causes severe enough impairment to prevent you from maintaining gainful employment but does not meet the listing of any of the conditions that appear in the SSA’s Bluebook, you may still be found eligible for disability benefits under a “medical vocational allowance”.
To establish eligibility under a medical vocational allowance, the SSA reviews your medical documentation to determine how your disability impairs your ability to perform everyday activities and to function on the job. Your capabilities are established in this manner. If the SSA determines you’re unable to maintain gainful employment as a result of your medical condition, then you may be approved for SSD benefits under a medical vocational allowance.
The majority of people approved for SSD benefits don’t match a listed impairment perfectly. In fact, most people don’t come anywhere close to suffering from the severe symptoms listed in the Bluebook. Instead, a medical consultant is called in to perform an independent evaluation of medical documentation to determine if the claimant’s specific symptoms and other medical details meet the general impairment requirements for receiving disability benefits.
The medical consultant will also establish a “residual functional capacity” (RFC) rating for you. This will tell the SSA the type of work (sedentary, light, etc) you’re capable of performing with the limitations your medical condition places on you. But, your RFC is only a portion of what the SSA considers to determine your eligibility for benefits. Your age, work experience, education, job skills and other details are also consider when determining if you are unable to find or maintain gainful employment and therefore qualified for SSD.
Functional limitations noted in your medical records play a big role in determining your claim and can establish a medical vocational allowance for SSD eligibility purposes. This is the reason that thorough and detailed medical records are so crucial to a successful SSD claim.