The SSA publishes a “Listing of Impairments” that specifically addresses numerous health and mental disorders, diseases and conditions. A Listing defines the SSA’s highest criteria for evaluating the severity of a medical condition at Step 3. Individuals that meet the Listing requirements typically suffer from severe symptoms of their medical condition that are supported by extensive clinical evidence. If your condition meets or medically equals one of the Listing criteria, the SSA automatically considers you to be limited from any gainful activity. No further assessment of your functional capacity or work history is required.
A failure to meet the Listing requirements does not mean that you necessarily will be denied benefits. In fact, few appealed cases meet the severity standards of the Listings. Instead, most cases are evaluated at Steps 4 and 5 of the Decision Process, where the ALJ considers additional elements such as age, work history and residual functional capacity.