If you meet the requirements of a listed impairment, your case will be approved unless you fail to meet certain non-medical qualifications


If the person filing for disability meets the listing, can the judge still deny benefits?

Whether or not someone meets all the criteria of an impairment listing requires objective medical evidence to support all the criteria of the listing. ALJ's (administrative law judges make decisions at Social Security hearings) are fairly autonomous, however if a client meets all criteria of a listing I would find it hard to believe an ALJ would deny benefits.

Having said this, there is the chance of denial in this situation, meaning if the client does not meet all non-medical criteria for the disability program they are filing for. Non-medical criteria typically relates to income and assets (SSA refers to this as resources), though assets only come under consideration on disability claims that involve the SSI disability program.

Because SSI is a need-based poverty program, based on disability status, having more than $2,000 in countable assets for an individual, or more than $3000 in countable assets for an individual and a non-eligible spouse can render the claimant ineligible without regard to their medical condition.

When it comes to either SSD or SSI claims (SSD claims are not subject to the limit on assets/resources), there have been cases of individuals satisfying the criteria for a listed impairment but being denied because they were working and making more than the allowable limit specified under the substantial gainful activity guidelines.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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