Most people have paid into Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) during their time working. If you were injured and now can’t work, you may be able to seek SSD benefits to help support you and your family. But for that to happen, the Social Security Administration (SSA) must consider your disabling medical condition severe enough to interfere with your ability to “achieve gainful employment” and quality you for SSDI benefits.
Below are details on some of the most common conditions present on the SSA’s list of disabling conditions (in alphabetical order). These are based on the Administration’s Blue Book, which is broken into 14 sections and used to evaluate whether a condition qualifies for SSDI.
Cancer (Malignant Neoplastic Diseases)
This includes many different types of cancer, including those of the breast, lung, prostate, liver or gallbladder, intestines, kidneys, skin, thyroid, skeletal system, lymphoma, and more.
Since cancer is so complex, it is considered on a case-by-case basis. When evaluating cancer for Social Security Disability benefits, the SSA looks at factors like:
- Where the cancer originated
- Extent of the malignancy
- How long you’ve had cancer, how often, and how it has responded to anticancer therapy
- Leftover effects of any treatments
The SSA will require medical documentation of these factors.
Heart-related conditions are some of the most common causes of disability in the United States, so it’s no surprise they’re included on this list. To decide if a cardiovascular disease or condition qualifies for SSDI, the Social Security Administration uses Section 4 of their Blue Book, which is broken down into eight subsections:
- Aneurysm of the aorta or major branches
- Chronic heart failure
- Chronic venous insufficiency
- Heart transplant
- Ischemic heart disease
- Peripheral artery disease (PAD)
- Recurrent arrhythmia
- Symptomatic congenital heart disease
Each of these contain specific criteria for how they should be evaluated, but all must be demonstrated by imaging, tests, or other type of medical documentation.
Other cardiovascular conditions that can be evaluated by this section include heart attack and heart failure, high cholesterol, hypertension, chest pain, and more.
Congenital Disorders that Affect Multiple Body Systems
These listings are divided into two categories:
- Non-Mosaic Down’s Syndrome (which is Down Syndrome that affects all of the body’s cells).
- All other conditions that affect multiple body systems.
Those with Non-Mosaic Down’s Syndrome are considered qualified for SSD benefits from birth as long as medical documentation and chromosomal analysis are shown.
Conditions that qualify for disability under the second section include Mosaic Down’s Syndrome, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Reye’s Syndrome, Fragile X Syndrome, and more.
The six categories of digestive system conditions in the Blue Book are:
- Chronic liver disease
- Gastrointestinal hemorrhaging
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Liver transplants
- Short bowel syndrome
- Weight loss caused by a digestive disorder
Other conditions evaluated under this section include Crohn’s Disease, colitis, cirrhosis, bowel incontinence, kidney failure, liver disease, diverticulitis, ulcers, GERD, and more.
Some digestive disorders may not fall into these categories, but that doesn’t always mean they won’t qualify for SSD benefits. A Social Security Disability lawyer can help you demonstrate how your condition affects your ability to work and other factors.
Endocrine System Disorders
Endocrine disorders fall under Section 9 of the Blue Book, which doesn’t actually look at direct qualifications for Social Security Disability benefits.
This section instead evaluates how an endocrine disorder might affect the person’s mental/emotional function or other parts of their body. This is likely because endocrine disorders cause hormonal imbalance in the body, which can lead to various physical, mental, and emotional issues for the sufferer.
Major glands impacted by an endocrine disorder include the:
Any disorder of these glands is evaluated under this section, including diabetes, hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, pancreatitis, and obesity.
The genitourinary system includes the reproductive organs and urinary system. Common conditions evaluated by this section include:
- Chronic glomerulonephritis
- Chronic obstructive uropathy
- Diabetic nephropathy
- Hereditary nephropathies
- Hypertensive renal vascular disease
- End-stage renal disease
- Kidney dialysis and kidney disease
To consider benefits for genitourinary conditions, you’ll need to show medical history and evidence, records of renal function prior to dialysis, copies of biopsies, as well as treatments tried, how you responded to them, and all side effects from treatments.
Hematological disorders are also known as blood disorders. Those included in the Blue Book include:
- Aplastic anemia
- Chronic anemia
- Chronic granulocytopenia
- Chronic thrombocytopenia
- Coagulation defects and hemophilia
- Hereditary telangiectasia
- Polycythemia vera
- Sickle cell disease
Deep vein thrombosis, a bone marrow transplant, multiple myeloma, and other conditions also fall under this section.
Immune System Disorders
Immune system disorders fall under the last section (14) of the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book and include disorders that cause dysfunction in one or more elements of a person’s immune system. The conditions evaluated here include:
- Autoimmune disorders
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection
- Immune deficiency disorders, excluding HIV infection
- Inflammatory arthritis
- Sjögren’s syndrome
- Systemic sclerosis
Mental disorder listings in the Blue Book are arranged into 11 different categories:
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders
- Depressive, bipolar and related disorders
- Eating disorders
- Intellectual disorders
- Neurocognitive disorders
- Neurodevelopmental disorders
- Personality and impulse-control disorders
- Schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders
- Somatic symptom and related disorders
- Trauma- and stressor-related disorders, such as PTSD
Each type of disorder has its own criteria for how it is evaluated, but for all, you’ll need to show you’re currently receiving and following treatment for the disorder.
Musculoskeletal refers to the muscles, ligaments and tendons, and bones of the body. The SSA breaks musculoskeletal system conditions into four categories:
- Amputations: typically must have two amputated limbs to qualify for benefits, but there are exceptions
- Joints, such as the knees, hips, ankles, shoulders, elbows, wrists, or more
Specific conditions that fall under these categories include whiplash, back pain, hernias, herniated discs, fibromyalgia, joint pain, hip or knee replacements, scoliosis, osteoporosis, spine disorders, and more.
Since some musculoskeletal conditions can get better over time, you’ll need to show your condition has lasted (or is expected to last) 12 months or more.
Neurological disorders affect the nervous system, including the brain, spinal cord or other nerves.
Disorders that are evaluated under this section include:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Syndrome)
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Brain tumors
- Cerebral palsy
- Huntington’s Disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Muscular Dystrophy
- Other degenerative diseases
- Parkinsonian Syndrome
- Peripheral neuropathies
Conditions evaluated under Respiratory Disorders result in either difficulty moving air into or out of the lungs or they affect gas exchange across the lungs’ cell membranes. Common examples of these types of disorders include:
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (chronic bronchitis and emphysema)
- Cystic fibrosis
- Pulmonary fibrosis and pneumoconiosis
Respiratory failure, chronic pulmonary hypertension, and lung transplantation are also evaluated under this section.
The Skin Disorders section of the Blue Book looks at conditions that may have congenital (present since birth), hereditary, or pathological causes. Those include:
- Chronic skin infections or mucous membrane disorders
- Genetic photosensitivity disorders
- Hidradenitis suppurativa
To evaluate any skin disorder, the SSA will need to know the location and size of the skin condition, appearance of any lesions, family history of any skin disorders, a history of any allergens, toxins, or irritants you may have been exposed to, whether or not your disorder is affected by changing seasons, and ability to function outside of a protective environment.
Special Senses and Speech
This section includes visual, speech, and hearing impairments like:
- Auditory processing disorder
- Hearing loss treated or not treated with cochlear implantation
- Loss of speech
- Statutory blindness
- Visual disorders
Keep in mind that even if your disorder is not listed here or specifically defined in the Blue Book, or if you have been denied benefits in the past, it doesn’t mean you are necessarily excluded from receiving Social Security Disability benefits. You’ll want to find out for sure by consulting with Social Security Disability lawyer to know your options and how you can demonstrate your disability impacts your ability to perform work.
Talk to a Social Security Disability Lawyer for Free Today
If you need help with your Social Security Disability application, John Foy & Associates can help. We’ve been helping disabled applicants get approved for benefits for more than 20 years, and we know what criteria the Social Security Administration will be looking for to approve a claim. For a FREE consultation where we’ll go over the details of your medical condition and application, call us today at 404-400-4000, or fill out the form on this page.