• Justin S. Raines

How do I prove that my illness or injury meets or equals a listing?

Updated: May 18, 2021


When you’re applying for Social Security disability benefits, the third step in the five-step sequential analysis asks whether a claimant’s impairments meet or medically equal the severity of a listing.


The Listing of Impairments, as the name suggests, is a detailed list of the most common impairments that are encountered in Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability case. These cover mental impairments, like depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder, and physical impairments, like rheumatic impairments, endocrine impairments like diabetes mellitus, and musculoskeletal impairments like back pain. The categories of listings are as follows:

  • Musculoskeletal Disorders

  • Special Senses and Speech

  • Respiratory Disorders

  • Cardiovascular System

  • Digestive System

  • Genitourinary Disorders

  • Hematological Disorders

  • Skin Disorders

  • Endocrine Disorders

  • Congenital Disorders that Affect Multiple Body Systems

  • Neurological Disorders

  • Mental Disorders

  • Cancer (Malignant Neoplastic Diseases)

  • Immune System Disorders

This is the first step when it’s possible to win, but it’s also the hardest step to prevail on. Even winning disability cases usually will not meet a listing.


Even if a claimant does not meet the strict criteria of a listing, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is required to determine if the severity of the claimant’s impairments equal the severity of a listing of impairments. Social Security regulations, rulings, and thousands of cases across the county have addressed the complicated process of proving that an impairment equals the severity of a listing.


If a claimant’s impairments do not meet or equal the severity of a listing, do not despair! You can still win by moving onto steps four and five, which will be discussed in future posts.


If you have a severe physical or mental illness or injury, you should consult with an attorney experienced in Social Security disability for help and advice proving your case.

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