What Medical Conditions Qualify you for Social Security Disability?

According to the rules and regulations of the Social Security Administration, an illness, disease, or condition qualifies for Social Security Disability benefits when it meets this description:

A medically discernable physical or mental impairment (or a combination of them) must be severe enough that a worker can’t engage in any substantial gainful activity, and the impairment must have lasted or be expected to last for at least 12 months or be expected to result in the person’s death.

The diseases, illnesses, and conditions that fit those requirements include too many to list.

The key to all successful Social Security disability claims is in the medical records collected and submitted in support of the application for benefits. Your doctor’s findings and assessment of your current and future condition is the focal point that influences the award decision.

If you plan to apply for Social Security Disability benefits, make sure to

1). keep your doctor’s appointments
2). continue to comply with treatment recommendations
3). contact an experienced social security claim advocate, like London Eligibility
a). get professional help collecting all necessary documents
b). speak with an advocate who understands and supports your application
c). have an advocate organize, prepare, and submit your SSD application
d). learn about your rights if you need to appeal
e). get all your questions answered

Categories of Qualifying Conditions

The government established a catalog of conditions and impairments called the Blue Book that sets out hundreds of physical and mental conditions that conform to its definition of a qualifying disability. We call these the “listed” impairments.

Some of these listed conditions often include requirements of particular test results or lab findings before the impairment is considered severe enough to qualify. But thousands of other successful claims for social security disability benefits are based on unlisted impairments and conditions every year.

Remember, any condition or impairment, whatever its source, may qualify you for disability benefits if it is medically determined, is severe enough to prevent you from “substantial gainful activity,” and has lasted or is expected to persist for 12 months or more.

Here is a partial list of conditions that can qualify for disability benefits under Social Security Disability:

Musculoskeletal problems – This category focuses on conditions that affect a person’s movement. Disease, degenerative factors, and injury can damage the body’s joints, connective tissues, and bone strength. Problems and pain happen when walking, climbing, sitting, bending, reaching, lifting, turning, typing, or any similar activity.

  • Joint deformity or loss of function (knee, ankle, wrist, fingers, elbow, shoulder, spine, hip, etc.)
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Back pain from degenerative disc disease, ruptured disc(s), or spinal disorder
  • Bone fractures, amputations
  • Degenerative Joint Disease
  • Degenerative Disk Disease
  • Hip degeneration or fractures

Speech & Loss of Senses – Blindness or other visual impairments, along with hearing loss and speech loss, can happen progressively. So too with impairments affecting your peripheral nerves, numbness, or pain with your sense of touch.

  • Vision impairment or blindness
  • Hearing impairment or deafness
  • Neuropathy

Respiratory illnesses – Difficulty breathing and shortness of breath impair so many other daily functions that it can be the result of one or several causes. Here is a list of only a few possible grounds for a successful Social Security Disability claim:

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Emphysema
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Severe asthma
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Chronic pulmonary hypertension

Cardiovascular conditions – Heart dysfunctions and circulatory problems include another large group of impairments that are recognized as grounds for an SSDI disability finding.

  • Chronic heart failure (especially ventricular dysfunction)
  • Pain from myocardial ischemia (lack of blood to the heart)
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Vein or artery disorders (peripheral vascular disease – PVD)

Digestive tract problems –  The digestive system is the source of many illnesses and conditions that may combine with other impairments or warrant a disability finding by itself. Since some digestive system illnesses respond successfully to treatment, these conditions are assessed for severity and their persistence when being evaluated for Social Security Disability benefits.  Some are listed here:

  • Short bowel syndrome

  • Chronic liver disease  
  • Gastrointestinal hemorrhaging that requires a blood transfusion
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Weight loss caused by any digestive disorder
  • Liver transplant

Neurological disorders – As with so many other categories, neurological disorders arise in connection with illnesses covered by other impairment groups. When the brain or the nervous system malfunctions or develops a disease, the function of other bodily systems often become disabling.

  • Epilepsy
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease)
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Stroke
  • Benign brain tumors
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Neurodegenerative disorders (such as Huntington’s Chorea, Friedreich’s ataxia, and spinocerebellar degeneration)
  • Traumatic brain injury

Cancer – Cancer afflicts virtually any organ or system within the human body. To evaluate applications arising from cancer claims, the Social Security Administration considers the location or organ involved, whether treatments are effective, the stage to which cancer has advanced, whether the lymphatic system was invaded, and other factors informing the prognosis for the person applying for SSDI.

Often,  with modern medical achievements, remission is possible. In other cases, if the prognosis anticipates no recovery, the SSA permits accelerated consideration for immediate benefits in recognition of the grave illness. This is also true of several illnesses that are understood to be inherently disabling.

Mental Disorders – Psychiatric and emotional disorders are recognized as disabling where the impact on the person’s daily life activities and their ability to maintain gainful employment activities are compromised, either alone or in combination with other physical or mental impairments.

  • Depression
  • Bipolar
  • Schizophrenia
  • Anxiety
  • Intellectual or developmental disability

Immune Disorders – These illnesses affect the body’s ability to protect itself from outside organisms, viruses, bacteria, or any organic environmental threat.

  • HIV Aids
  • Lupus
  • Connective Tissue Disease
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Other Qualifying Conditions –

So many other illnesses, disorders, impairments, and syndromes can qualify you for Social Security Disability that we can’t list them all here, but they include:

  • Genitourinary Disorders – chronic kidney disease (CKD), chronic glomerulonephritis, hypertensive nephropathy, diabetic nephropathy, chronic obstructive uropathy
  • Hematological Disorders – non-cancerous blood disorders, and leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and other related conditions
  • Skin Disorders – burns, genetic photosensitivity, chronic infections of the skin or mucous membranes, dermatitis, hidradenitis, and others causing pain or affecting large areas, etc.
  • Endocrine Disorders – conditions involving hormone glands, pancreas, thyroid gland, parathyroid gland, adrenal gland, and pituitary gland
  • Congenital Disorders – non-mosaic Down Syndrome, Tay-Sachs disease, fragile X syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome, and others.