At step three of the Five-Step Sequential Evaluation Process, the SSA must determine whether the applicant’s impairment or combination of impairments is severe enough to “meet or medically equal” the criteria of an impairment specifically listed in the Federal Regulations.  These are commonly known as “the listings.”  If the applicant’s impairment or combination of impairments is severe enough to meet or medically equal the criteria of a listing, and also meets the duration requirement, the applicant is automatically considered disabled, without regard to whether or not he or she is able to perform his or her past work or any other work.

The Listing of Impairments – Adult Listings (Part A) contain the following 14 general categories:           

  1. Musculoskeletal System
  2. Special Senses and Speech
  3. Respiratory Disorders
  4. Cardiovascular System
  5. Digestive System
  6. Genitourinary Disorders
  7. Hematological Disorders
  8. Skin Disorders
  9. Endocrine Disorders
  10. Congenital Disorders that Affect Multiple Body Systems
  11. Neurological Disorders
  12. Mental Disorders
  13. Cancer (Malignant Neoplastic Disease)
  14. Immune System Disorders

Almost all the categories named above have multiple listings for specific diseases.  For example, category 4.0, “Cardiovascular System,” contains the following 11 specific listings:

            4.02             Chronic Heart Failure

            4.04            Ischemic Heart Disease

            4.05            Recurrent Arrhythmias

            4.06            Symptomatic Congenital Heart Disease

            4.09            Heart Transplant

            4.10            Aneurysm of Aorta or Major Branches

            4.11            Chronic Venous Insufficiency

            4.12            Peripheral Arterial Disease     

The listings have multiple strict criteria.  A claimant “meets” a listing if he or she satisfies all criteria stated in the listing.  A claimant can “equal” a listing if he or she does not quite satisfy all the requirements of that listing but, nonetheless, can show that his or her impairment is equivalent in severity to an impairment that does satisfy all the requirements.  If a claimant either “meets” or “equals” any of the listings he or she will be automatically found disabled regardless whether they are able to perform their past work or any other work.

In reality, however, very few cases are severe enough to meet or equal a listing.  The standards are simply way too high for most claimants.  In most cases, claimants have to go on and prove that their impairments prevent them from performing their past work or any other that exists in significant numbers in the national economy.

Social Security Disability Topics

The Social Security Disability Process

Types of Social Security Disability Benefits

How Social Security Determines if You Are Disabled

Improving Your Chances of Winning

Do I really need to get an attorney?

Your Hearing Before An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)

Appealing a Denial of Benefits