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Which conditions qualify for SSD benefits according to the SSA?

On Behalf of | Apr 6, 2024 | Social Security Disability

The Social Security Disability (SSD) program offers financial assistance to individuals with severe medical conditions that prevent them from working. While some conditions automatically qualify, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has a strict evaluation process to determine eligibility more broadly.

Familiarizing yourself with the types of physical conditions that may qualify for SSD benefits can help you to make informed decisions about whether to apply.

What is SSA’s definition of disability?

It’s crucial to understand that SSA defines disability differently from other programs. They consider someone disabled only if their condition significantly limits basic work activities like walking, sitting, lifting or remembering for at least 12 months. The condition should also prevent an individual from performing past work or adjusting to other work. More importantly, the disability should be expected to last for at least a year or result in death.

The SSA’s Listing of Impairments

The SSA maintains a resource called the “Listing of Impairments,” also known as the “Blue Book.” This document outlines specific conditions and their severity levels that automatically qualify for benefits. The Blue Book categorizes impairments by body system, with some of the most common physical conditions for SSD claims including:

  • Musculoskeletal disorders: Back pain, arthritis, degenerative disc disease and limitations in mobility due to bone or joint injuries
  • Special senses and speech: Severe vision or hearing loss and speech impediments that significantly affect communication
  • Respiratory disorders: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis and severe asthma that restricts breathing
  • Cardiovascular system disorders: Congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease with limitations on physical activity
  • Digestive disorders: Inflammatory bowel disease (IBS), Crohn’s disease and conditions causing severe malnutrition
  • Genitourinary disorders: Kidney failure requiring dialysis and severe urinary incontinence
  • Skin disorders: Extensive burns with limited healing or chronic skin conditions that significantly impact mobility or daily function.
  • Endocrine disorders: Severe thyroid disorders affecting metabolism and energy levels
  • Congenital disorders: Conditions present at birth that significantly limit function in multiple body systems
  • Cancer (malignant neoplastic diseases): Depending on the type and severity of cancer, some cases automatically qualify

Remember, the Blue Book is a guide, not a guarantee. Even if your condition is listed, the SSA will still evaluate your medical records and work limitations to determine eligibility. And, conversely, not having your condition listed in the Blue Book is not an automatic bar to receiving benefits if your eligibility can otherwise be fully demonstrated.

Living with a severe physical condition can make working difficult or impossible. If you believe that you meet the criteria for SSD benefits, researching qualifying conditions, gathering medical evidence and seeking legal help can increase your chances of approval. Remember, the SSA application process can take months, so be prepared for the journey.