What Medical Conditions Qualify for Social Security Disability or SSI? (2022)

Learn more about which illnesses and diseases are likely to qualify for disability benefits, and how to improve your chances of getting benefits for your medical condition.

The Social Security Administration's (SSA's) impairment listing manual (called the blue book) lists a number of impairments, both physical and mental. These medical conditions will automatically qualify an applicant for Social Security disability benefits (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), provided the applicant's condition meets the disability requirements in the listing. Each listing lays out the symptoms, tests, and limitations that an applicant must have to get approved for disability benefits.

What Conditions Qualify for Disability?

The listing manual includes the following categories of conditions, which will automatically qualify you for disability if you meet the requirements in the listing:

  • musculoskeletal problems, such as back and joint injuries
  • cardiovascular conditions, such as heart failure or coronary artery disease
  • senses and speech issues, such as vision and hearing loss
  • respiratory illnesses, such as COPD, cystic fibrosis, or asthma
  • neurological disorders, such as multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, Parkinson's disease, or epilepsy
  • mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety, autism, or intellectual disorder (low IQ)
  • immune system disorders, such as HIV/AIDS, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis
  • various syndromes, such as Sjogren's Syndrome and Marfan Syndrome
  • skin disorders, such as dermatitis and soft tissue injuries like burns
  • digestive tract problems, such as liver disease and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • kidney disease and genitourinary problems
  • cancer, and
  • blood disorders, such as hemolytic or sickle cell anemia or bone marrow failure.

To learn the disability requirements for getting disability benefits for many of the above conditions, see our section of articles on Medical Conditions, Impairments, and Problems.

(Video) Medical Conditions that Qualify You for Disability Benefits

How Do You Get Disability for Listed Medical Conditions?

If your disability is listed in Social Security's Listing of Impairments, the first step is to get a diagnosis of the condition from your doctor. But a diagnosis alone will get you an automatic disability approval for only a few conditions, like the following:

  • ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig's disease)
  • organ transplants, such as a liver or kidney transplant, and
  • certain serious cancers, such as esophageal cancer, mucosal melanoma, anaplastic carcinoma of the thyroid gland, or small-cell carcinoma (of the prostate, ovaries, breast, lungs, pleura, intestines, or bladder).

For all other conditions, Social Security will look past your diagnosis to determine if you meet the requirements of the listing, such as having certain x-ray or test results, for that impairment. The listings often require that your doctor's treatment notes mention that you have physical limitations and cognitive limitations.

If you haven't had the clinical or laboratory tests required in a listing, you can ask your doctor to perform them. Or you can wait for the SSA to pay for a consultative exam, but this makes your claim take longer. It's generally better if the key test results are already in your medical records before you apply. That way, you can check to see if your test results meet the requirements of the listing before you apply for disability.

The listing requirements are often quite complex; our illness-specific articles simplify the medical criteria laid out in the listings so that you can understand whether your condition will qualify for disability.

(Video) What Medical Conditions Qualify for SSDI or SSI?

Does a Medical Condition Have to Match the Listing?

No, an applicant filing for Social Security disability benefits doesn't necessarily have to satisfy the exact listing requirements for a particular illness or condition to be awarded disability benefits based on the condition. You can get disability benefits if Social Security considers aspects of your condition to equal the criteria in a listing. This is called "equaling a disability listing." (But according to recent government statistics, 37% of all approved disability applications "met" a listing and only 6% "equaled" a listing.)

How Do You Qualify for Disability If You Can't Meet the Listing?

If you don't meet OR equal the criteria for the medical listing, you can still qualify for disability benefits if your condition limits your functioning so much that you can't work. Social Security will consider how your condition affects your ability to do routine daily activities and work activities, and will then determine whether there is any kind of job you can safely be expected to do.

First, Social Security determines your residual functional capacity (RFC) by looking at how much you can lift and carry and how long you can walk and stand. Then the agency assigns you an RFC of heavy, medium, light, or sedentary work. If your RFC doesn't allow you to do any jobs that you're otherwise suited for, you can qualify for benefits "vocationally." In a recent year, half of all approved disability applications were approved vocationally—based on the assessment of applicants' limitations and the jobs available for someone with those limitations.

For more information on qualifying for disability vocationally, see our section on how Social Security decides if your limitations make you disabled.

(Video) How to Quickly Qualify for Social Security Disability by Meeting a Listing

What If a Condition Isn't in the Listing of Impairments?

An applicant doesn't need to have an impairment that is listed in Social Security's Blue Book to be awarded disability benefits. For instance, migraine headaches are not included in a listing, but if an applicant's migraines are severe enough and are well documented, Social Security may grant disability benefits if the migraines make it impossible for the disability applicant to work a full-time job. Other common impairments that aren't listed in Social Security's blue book include:

  • degenerative disc disease.
  • carpal tunnel syndrome
  • fibromyalgia
  • chronic regional pain syndrome
  • reflex sympathetic dystrophy, and
  • celiac disease.

Here are the keys to getting benefits for a condition that doesn't have a listing. The condition must:

  • be a "medically determinable impairment," and
  • reduce someone's RFC enough so that they can't do their prior job or any type of work.

Which Medical Conditions Are Likely to Qualify for Disability?

While any of the above medical conditions are qualifying disabilities, some medical conditions are more likely to lead to an approval of benefits than others. We recently surveyed our readers about their experiences in applying for disability benefits and compared their answers to government statistics. The conditions most likely to get approved were multiple sclerosis and some types of cancers. Respiratory disorders (like COPD) and joint disease (like arthritis in the hip and back) were also high on the list. For the details, see our article on survey statistics on getting Social Security disability for common medical conditions.

How Can I Get My Medical Condition to Qualify?

If you've been seeing a doctor regularly, have a conversation with your doctor about your limitations. For instance, you might tell your doctor that you have lumbar pain when standing for long periods of time, or your back hurts after carrying items. Make sure your doctor includes these issues in your medical records; your doctor might record the limitations as "not able to lift 30 pounds" or "can stand no longer than two hours." Ask whether your doctor thinks your limitations rule out full-time work for you. If your doctor agrees, it's time to apply for disability benefits.

(Video) What are the Social Security doctors looking for when reviewing your medical records?

If you haven't been seeing a doctor, now is the time to start. You need to have a lengthy medical record that supports your disability claim, including your diagnoses, your limitations, your test results, and your treatment plans. Once you've had several doctors' appointments, ask if your doctor thinks your limitations are disabling and about your long-term prospects for work. Only then should you apply for disability.

Before You Apply for Disability Benefits

Before you apply for benefits, make sure you have the names and addresses of all doctors and clinics you've visited over the last five years, and the names and addresses of your employers from the last 15 years. But applying for benefits involves more than putting contact information in the disability application. The most important step you can take is to make sure that you have enough information in your medical records for Social Security to make a decision on your claim.

When you're ready to apply, see our article on applying for Social Security disability benefits.

Updated June 14, 2022

(Video) 12 New Qualifying Conditions For Social Security Disability Benefits

FAQs

What Medical Conditions Qualify for Social Security Disability or SSI? ›

Conditions that qualify for SSDI and SSI include:
  • Cardiovascular System. Conditions of the heart, such as High Blood Pressure, Heart Failure and Blood Clots.
  • Digestive System. ...
  • Endocrine System. ...
  • Genitourinary Impairments. ...
  • Hematological Disorders. ...
  • Immune System Disorders. ...
  • Malignant Neoplastic Diseases. ...
  • Mental Disorders.
Apr 28, 2022

What is the most approved disability? ›

1. Arthritis. Arthritis and other musculoskeletal disabilities are the most commonly approved conditions for disability benefits. If you are unable to walk due to arthritis, or unable to perform dexterous movements like typing or writing, you will qualify.

What is considered to be a disability? ›

The ADA defines a person with a disability as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity. This includes people who have a record of such an impairment, even if they do not currently have a disability.

What are a list of disabilities? ›

Common Disabilities
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Learning Disabilities.
  • Mobility Disabilities.
  • Medical Disabilities.
  • Psychiatric Disabilities.
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Visual Impairments.
  • Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

What disqualifies a person from disability? ›

You Earn Too Much Income

For SSDI, which is the benefit program for workers who have paid into the Social Security system over multiple years, one of the most basic reasons you could be denied benefits is that, when you apply, you are working above the limit where it is considered "substantial gainful activity" (SGA).

How can I increase my chances of getting disability? ›

Tips to Improve Your Chances of Getting Disability Benefits
  1. File Your Claim as Soon as Possible. ...
  2. Make an Appeal within 60 Days. ...
  3. Provide Full Details of Medical Treatment. ...
  4. Provide Proof of Recent Treatment. ...
  5. Report your Symptoms Accurately. ...
  6. Provide Medical Evidence. ...
  7. Provide Details of your Work History.
Oct 20, 2019

Does arthritis qualify for disability? ›

Many people may wonder is arthritis a disability. Yes. Arthritis can prompt incapacity, as can numerous other mental and physical conditions. If your arthritis confines your daily movements, or activities you may qualify for disability benefits.

How do I know if I am disabled? ›

You are considered to have a disability if you have a physical or mental impairment or medical condition that: substantially limits a major life activity, or. a history or record of such an impairment or medical condition.

Which is not a disability? ›

If a medical condition does not impair normal activities, it is not considered a disability. 96% of people with chronic medical conditions live with an invisible illness. Many people living with a hidden physical disability or mental challenge can still be active in their hobbies, work, and be active in sports.

What are the top 10 physical disabilities? ›

Types of physical disabilities
  • Spinal cord injury (SCI) The spinal cord can become injured if too much pressure is applied and/or if the blood and oxygen supply to the spinal cord is cut. ...
  • Cerebral palsy. ...
  • Cystic fibrosis (CF) ...
  • Epilepsy. ...
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS) ...
  • Tourette syndrome.

What are the 7 types of disability? ›

  • Blindness.
  • Low-vision.
  • Leprosy Cured persons.
  • Hearing Impairment (deaf and hard of hearing)
  • Locomotor Disability.
  • Dwarfism.
  • Intellectual Disability.
  • Mental Illness.
Dec 16, 2016

What is the number 1 disability in the world? ›

Worldwide, the most common disability in people under the age of 60 is depression, followed by hearing and visual problems.

Is it harder to get SSI or SSDI? ›

According to government statistics for applications filed in 2018, many people receive technical denials: 45% for SSDI applicants and 18% for SSI. In that same year, approval rates at the application level based on medical eligibility alone were 41% for SSDI and 37% for SSI.

What state is easiest to get disability? ›

Kansas
  • Kansas offers the highest chance of being approved for social security disability.
  • This state has an SSDI approval rate of 69.7% in 2020. It had the second-highest approval rate in 2019, with 61.3% of SSDI claims approved.
  • The average monthly benefit for SSDI beneficiaries is $1,228.
Jan 11, 2021

How much Social Security disability will I get if I make $60 000 a year? ›

That adds up to $2,096.48 as a monthly benefit if you retire at full retirement age. Put another way, Social Security will replace about 42% of your past $60,000 salary. That's a lot better than the roughly 26% figure for those making $120,000 per year.

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