The Social Security Administration (SSA) has an impairment listing manual that outlines conditions that qualify for Social Security. Your medical condition does not need to be listed in the manual in order for you to qualify; rather, you just have to be able to provide evidence that your condition meets criteria for qualifying as disabled. This is referred to as equaling a SSD listing.
Medical equivalence applies when you have a condition that does not exactly match the criteria of a condition listed in the SSA impairment manual, but your symptoms make you just as disabled as someone who has a listed condition.
What would qualify?
The SSA lists three ways your impairment would qualify as medically equivalent to a listed impairment. Although your symptoms can differ, your impairment needs to be equal in severity and duration to the criteria of impairments listed.
- If your impairment is described in the impairment manual, but you do not have all of the symptoms, or if your symptoms are not as severe as required you still may qualify.
- If you have an impairment that is not described in the manual, but your symptoms are equal in pain and significance to a listed impairment, which may qualify as well.
- If you have a combination of impairments, but none are severe enough on their own to qualify, the combined impairments may qualify.
The burden of proof
In order to qualify for SSD your medical equivalent condition must be physically or mentally debilitating enough to meet the criteria outlined in the five step evaluation process.
When determining if impairment is medically equivalent, things such as pain, the capacity to perform basic functions and medical history will be considered. Your vocational background will also be taken into consideration. You must provide medical evidence of an ongoing impairment.