What Conditions Qualify For Disability? | (Complete Guide)

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Millions of Americans receive disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) each month, and many more submit new applications every day. Disability benefit recipients have medical conditions that prevent them from being able to work and perform meaningful, gainful activity. The Social Security Administration has strict rules about what types of conditions qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Do you have an impairment and you are wondering whether you might qualify for benefits? Keep reading as we explain what conditions qualify for benefits as well as how you can qualify even if you do not have a specific condition listed in the SSA Blue Book.


Listing Of Impairments For Social Security Disability Benefits

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So, what qualifies for disability? The Social Security Administration maintains a list of impairments that are essentially considered automatically disabling. The list is also sometimes called the “Blue Book.” The book also describes the tests and symptoms that a person must exhibit to meet the requirement for a specific impairment. Here is the complete list of impairments from the Blue Book that are SSDI and SSI disability qualifications for adults.


Musculoskeletal Disorders

The conditions in this section all affect the musculoskeletal system. They may be spinal related conditions, joint conditions, or even amputations. You do not necessarily need to be born with the condition to qualify for benefits.


Special Senses And Speech

The conditions listed here deal with the senses, particularly vision and hearing. Some examples include blindness and deafness. Total blindness is not necessary to qualify for benefits as other vision impairments might be enough to qualify as well. In addition, severe speech issues or hearing loss can get you qualified under this section.


Respiratory Disorders

Breathing issues can certainly prevent a person from being able to work, and those are covered here. Conditions like COPD, cystic fibrosis, or severe asthma will generally get you qualified under this section. Other respiratory issues like a lung transplant are covered here.


Cardiovascular System

The cardiovascular system is an extremely important body system, so issues here can lead to full disability. Issues like heart failure, heart transplants, recurrent arrhythmias, or other severe heart diseases will typically get your disability claim approved.


Digestive System

If you are unable to eat normally and have major digestive system issues, then this might be a qualifying condition for Social Security disability insurance. Things like irritable bowel syndrome, short bowel syndrome, liver disease or a liver transplant can get you qualified. Remember that all the conditions in these sections apply to both SSI and SSDI disability determinations.


Genitourinary Disorders

Some people likely have no idea what this section covers. It is a big word, but it deals mainly with your body’s kidneys. Kidney failure, kidney transplants, dialysis, and other major kidney issues are covered here. Since people with severe kidney disease need almost constant care, it is nearly impossible for them to work with this condition.


Hematological Disorders

As the name implies, these conditions relate to blood disorders that one might suffer from. Sickle cell anemia, bone marrow failure, thrombosis, and hemostasis are just a few examples of disorders listed in this section. These disorders disrupt the normal production of blood cells and clotting materials, so it can often be dangerous for these people to attempt to work.


Skin Disorders

This section covers severe skin disorders like dermatitis or Bullous disease. In addition, someone who has suffered severe burns might be able to qualify under this section as well. The claimant must only show that they meet the requirements in the Blue Book for their disabling condition to get approved for benefits.


Endocrine Disorders

When you have a disorder in the endocrine system, one or more hormones in your body becomes out of balance. This may be related to your thyroid, pancreas, pituitary gland, or another part of your endocrine system.


Congenital Disorders That Affect Multiple Body Systems

The most common disorder covered under this section is Down syndrome. It covers different types of Down syndrome, and this section explains the diagnosis and tests that must be performed in order to qualify with the impairments listed here.


Neurological Disorders

This section covers neurological disorders like cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, brain tumors, and other issues that affect the neurological system. Any of these conditions will qualify you for SSDI benefits or SSI benefits. If your child has severe ADHD, he or she might meet a children’s listing for SSI.


Mental Disorders

Remember that SSDI is not limited to physical disorders. Mental disorders can also qualify you. Things like schizophrenia, severe depression, bipolar, autism, and other mental disorders can get your disability application approved. Mental health is getting more focus lately, and people are starting to realize that these disorders are true disabilities.



You can qualify for SSDI or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) with nearly any type of cancer, but it must be severe. If easily treatable, then it is not going to be considered a true disability. In most cases, it must have metastasized in order to qualify you for benefits.


Immune System Disorders

Disorders of the immune system are often severe enough to qualify you for benefits. If your medical records show a diagnosis of severe rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, HIV or other disorders, then you may be able to qualify for benefits easily.


What Does “Meet A Listing” Mean?

Meeting a listing is the easiest way to prove eligibility and get approved for benefits. This means that your impairment matches exactly to the requirements of one of the impairments in the Blue Book. You must present medical evidence showing that you have had the proper diagnosis, testing, and symptoms that match the listing in the Blue Book. These listings are automatically assumed to be disabling, so meeting a listing means that you should get approved right away.


Disability With Other Medical Conditions

Only about 35% of approved disability applications actually meet a listing. You can also prove that your condition equals a listing. This means that your condition is basically the same as a listing in the book – although only about 5% of applications are approved this way. The most common approval method is by vocationally proving your disability. This means that your condition or combination of conditions renders you unable to perform a vocation or job of any kind. You will look to the medical records as well as a vocational expert to conduct a disability evaluation to prove your case meets the Social Security disability criteria. This accounts for about half of Social Security disability approvals.


How To Apply For Disability Benefits

Many people wonder how to get disability. Unfortunately, the application process for benefits can be confusing and extremely lengthy. You must submit your initial application to the SSA and wait for a decision. If your application is denied, then you can request a reconsideration. If still denied, then you are entitled to have a hearing before a judge. About 30% of cases that were originally denied will be approved at this stage. If you file an appeal, make sure that you know how to win your SSI appeal. From initial application to the hearing stage can take 18 to 24 months, so this is not a fast process! If still not approved, then you are entitled to go before the Appeals Council and even to Federal District court. However, very few cases make it this far. Most people enlist the help of a disability lawyer to navigate this process. Most attorneys will offer a free consultation to provide some advice about your case.


The Bottom Line

There are quite a few conditions that will almost automatically qualify you for SSDI or SSI benefits. Even if you do not have a condition that meets one of these listings, you can still qualify by proving that you are unable to work due to your impairment. One disclaimer – you should keep in mind that the information contained in this article is not legal advice. It is only for informational purposes, so you should talk to an attorney if you need legal advice.


Frequently Asked Questions

What conditions are automatically approved for disability?

There are only a handful of conditions that are automatically approved such as ALS, organ transplants, and very serious types of cancer. For other conditions, you will need to either meet or equal a listing or prove vocationally that you are unable to work due to your condition.


How long do you have to wait to apply for disability?

Your condition must have caused you to be out of work for at least 12 months or be expected to last at least 12 months before you can apply for disability. Though it need not be a permanent disability, it often is. If either of these conditions are met, then you can go ahead and apply. However, the application process can take 24 months in some cases if you need to go all the way to the appeals process.


What is the process for getting disability?

You will need to submit an application for disability. You can submit an online application for disability, call the SSA, or visit your local SSA office. You will also need to provide your medical records that evidence your disability.


What are the qualifications for disability?

So, what is considered a disability? To qualify for disability, you need to have a medical condition that prevents you from performing meaningful gainful activity. Essentially, your medical disability must prevent you from working and earning a living.