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Understanding medical equivalence when seeking SSD benefits

On Behalf of | Sep 15, 2017 | Social Security Disability

Oklahomans who are injured, ill or suffering from a condition that results in an inability to work should know that they can seek Social Security disability benefits. However, the Listing of Impairments does not always specifically address the person’s specific issues. It is then that the medical equivalence becomes important. Knowing what the medical equivalence is and how it can apply is vital to meeting the requirements to get an approval for benefits. An impairment is found to be at least equal to an impairment that is on the Listings if it is viewed as having the same severity and duration. Then it will meet the criteria of medical equivalence.

There are three ways in which the Social Security Administration will decide on medical equivalence. First, if the claimant’s impairment is described in the Listings, but the claimant does not have one or more of the findings specified or does have all the findings but one or more is not as severe as it is specified, then the impairment will be considered medically equivalent if there are other findings related to the impairment and they are considered of equal medical significance.

Second, if the impairment is not listed, the findings will be compared to those that are close to those on the Listings. If they are found to be at least equal to a listed impairment, it will be found to be the medical equivalent and SSD benefits can be provided. Third, if there are a combination of impairments with none individually meeting one on the Listings, there will be a comparison to similar impairments that are listed. If the person’s impairments are equal to those listed, the combination can be found as medically equivalent and benefits can be approved.

When seeking SSD benefits, meeting the requirements is often viewed as a matter of having an impairment that directly matches those on the Listings. This is not necessarily true. People who do not precisely meet the criteria listed can still get benefits if their issues are determined to be medically equivalent to those listed. For help with these cases and any other matter related to Social Security disability, an experienced legal professional is essential.

Source:, ” DI 24505.015 Finding Disability Based on the Listing of Impairments — B. Medical equivalence,” accessed on Sept. 11, 2017