Which Disorders Qualify Me for Social Security Disability?

When a person applies for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), it is because they have suffered a disability so great that they no longer have the ability to work to support themselves financially. Though there are many requirements to qualify for disability, the applicant’s medical condition is the key part of the SSDI application process.

What Is the “Blue Book”?

The SSA has a reference book entitled Disability Evaluation Under Social Security, known informally as the “Blue Book.” The book is written for the benefit of doctors and contains information about how the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) disability programs work and what kind of information health professionals needs to submit for an applicant trying to qualify for one of the programs. The most well-known section of the Blue Book is the “Listing of Impairments,” a collection of lists of qualifying disorders that are used for both Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. When the SSA evaluates an applicant’s medical condition, they consult these disability listings, though they are not exhaustive and you may still qualify for disability even if your condition is not in the Listing of Impairments.

What Disorders Are in the Listing of Impairments?

The Listing of Impairments is broken up into two parts: Part A is the Adult Listings section and Part B is the Childhood Listings section (used for SSI situations). Each of these parts is further broken down by major body system, such as cardiovascular disorders, mental disorders, and immune system disorders. (The adult and childhood listings contain identical lists of disorder categories except that the childhood listing adds “Low Birth Weight and Failure to Thrive” as a category.)

So let’s look in detail at each of the adult listing categories that qualify for disability.

1. Musculoskeletal Disorders

Disorders of the skeletal system (bones and soft tissue) and soft tissue injuries

e.g. Joint issues, curvature of the spine, amputation, bone fractures

2. Special Senses and Speech Disorders

Abnormalities that affect vision, speech, and hearing

e.g. Blindness, partial loss of vision, loss of speech, hearing loss

3. Respiratory Disorders

Disorders that impair normal breathing

e.g. Emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pulmonary fibrosis, chronic bronchitis, asthma, cystic fibrosis, respiratory failure, lung transplants

4. Cardiovascular System Disorders

Disorders that affect the heart and the circulatory system (arteries, veins, capillaries, and lymphatic drainage)

e.g. Chronic heart failure (CHF), ischemic heart disease, recurrent arrhythmias, heart transplants, peripheral arterial disease

5. Digestive System Disorders

Disorders of the esophagus, stomach, liver, and intestines

e.g. Gastrointestinal hemorrhaging, chronic liver disease, inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBD), short bowel syndrome (SBS), weight loss due to any digestive disorder, liver transplant, Crohn’s disease

6. Genitourinary Disorders

Disorders of the reproductive and urinary systems

e.g. Chronic kidney disease, kidney transplants, nephrotic syndrome, Alport syndrome, diabetic nephropathy, hypertensive renal vascular disease

7. Hematological Disorders

Non-cancerous disorders of the blood and blood-forming organs

e.g. Sickle cell disease, anemia, bone marrow failure, clotting disorders (thrombosis and hemostasis)

8. Skin Disorders

Hereditary, congenital, or acquired disorders of the skin

e.g. Ichthyosis, bullous disease, burns, dermatitis, genetic photosensitivity, chronic infections of the skin or mucous membranes, extensive skin lesions

9. Endocrine Disorders

Disorders that affect hormonal balance

e.g. pituitary hypofunction, hypothyroid, hyperthyroid, adrenal disorders, diabetes mellitus, chronic hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA)

10. Congenital Disorders that Affect Multiple Body Systems

Disorders from birth that affect the entire body

e.g. Down syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Reye’s Syndrome, Phenylketonuria (PKU)

11. Neurological Disorders

Disorders of the brain, spinal cord, and nervous system

e.g. Epilepsy, benign brain tumors, Parkinsonian syndrome/Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy, spinal cord disorders, paraplegia/quadriplegia, multiple sclerosis (MS), muscular dystrophy, peripheral neuropathy, Huntington’s disease, traumatic brain injury

12. Mental Disorders

Disorders of mental health

e.g. Schizophrenia, depression/dysthymia, bipolar disorder, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), somatic symptom disorder, personality disorders, autism spectrum disorder, eating disorders, Tourette’s syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

13. Cancer (Malignant Neoplastic Diseases)

Cancers of all body systems

e.g. Lung cancer, skin cancer, lymphoma, leukemia, multiple myeloma, thyroid cancer, breast cancer, malignant melanoma, bone cancer

14. Immune System Disorders

Disorders that cause dysfunction in one or more components of the immune system

e.g. Autoimmune disorders, HIV, inflammatory arthritis, lupus, vasculitis, scleroderma, Sjogren’s syndrome

How Do I Know if My Disorder Is Advanced Enough to Qualify for Disability?

Just being diagnosed with one of these disorders is not enough to meet the disability qualifications for assistance. Your disorder must be advanced enough that you can no longer work and will not be able to work for at least a year.

If you have any questions about qualifying for disability assistance, contact our lawyers at Ward Law Group, LLC. They can give you a free consultation on your specific situation, highlight details that you never thought about, and give you the peace of mind that being informed brings.

Social Security Attorneys

John L. Ward

John L. Ward


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