When people in Illinois submit a claim for disability benefits to the Social Security Administration, they may have a general idea of the process that the SSA uses to determine their eligibility for Social Security Disability. One of the tools that the SSA uses is a publication known as the blue book.

The blue book is a collection of the approved disabling conditions along with a strict set of criteria that people must meet to receive eligibility status. This book is designed for the use of doctors or mental health professionals who are asked to evaluate applicants’ conditions.  As such, the language of the book can be difficult for the average person to understand.

Disorder categories and descriptions

There is a disability list for adult conditions and a separate disability list for conditions that affect children. The adult list is comprised of 14 different categories such as neurological, special senses and speech disabilities, cardiovascular system and immune system disorders. The childhood list also has 14 categories under which disability conditions are placed.

Under the title for a category is a general description and introduction to disorders within that category. For example, if one were looking at mental disorders, the blue book would provide information about how the criteria is evaluated, the medical evidence that is required to show the existence of a disorder and how the disorder will be assessed to see how the disorder affects the applicants and their daily life.

Qualifying criteria

Each disabling condition listed in the blue book has a set of criteria that doctors must use as a guide for their evaluations. For example, if a psychologist was performing an assessment on a person with a personality disorder, they would look at the following behaviors:

  • Mood disturbances that are persistent
  • Autistic or seclusiveness thinking
  • Aggressiveness, passiveness or pathological dependence
  • Behaviors, speech, thought or perception that is odd
  • Behavior that is damaging or impulsive
  • Relationships that are unstable and intense

In addition to the above behaviors, the psychologist will need to determine if the mental illness prevents the applicant from functioning in society or impairs their ability to engage in daily activities.

Medical evidence

The doctor or mental health professional performing the assessment must also determine whether applicants’ medical records back up their claim. Applicants are required to provide medical test results, records of hospitalization and doctors’ exams that are related in any way to their disability. They may also include the prescriptions, history of therapy treatments and anything else they think may strengthen their claim for benefits.


A Closer Look at the Blue Book

The Blue Book is often misleading and misunderstood by people who apply for SS benefits. Many people come to us under the impression that they will be automatically awarded benefits because their diagnosis is in the book, but this list is extremely nuanced and has extremely detailed requirements. To learn more, watch the short video.


The Good Law Group has more than 30 years’ experience handling social security disability cases at every level of the application process, and we receive no payment unless you are awarded benefits. Call us at (847) 577-4476 to schedule a free case evaluation.