Adult and Child List of Qualifying Impairments

Before being awarded disability benefits under the federal social security program, you need to prove that your disability matches the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) qualifying impairment & conditions. The SSA defines accepted disability as any physical, psychological, or medical condition severe enough to prevent one from making any substantial gainful activity (SGA), is expected to last for a minimum of one year, or possibly lead to death.

The SSA understands that the definition may leave room for arguments, which is why a doctor’s statement advising you to refrain from working is insufficient. The SSA uses its panel of examiners and medical experts to evaluate all disability claims, who then cross-checks each application against a list of qualifying conditions compiled by the SSA in a document called the Blue Book. This book distinguishes the qualifying impairments for adults and children and is used by the Disability Determination Services (DDS).

The sections below summarize the presenting conditions & qualifying impariments indicated in SSA’s book of disabling conditions eligible for Social Security disability payment. The examples given below are not comprehensive but provide the common cases of approved disabilities. For a complete list of approved qualifying impairments, visit the official website of the Social Security Office or get help from a disability attorney.

For the extremely severe medical conditions, the SSA has a provision for expedited processing to reduce the waiting period. The only requirement is that the claimant’s disability is included in the Compassionate Allowance of the SSA, which lists over 200 critical conditions.

Qualifying Conditions

To receive your SSDI benefits or SSI income payments, you must meet the SSA’s definition of a disabled person as published in its blue book of medical condition listings. However, even if your disability is not included in the list, you may still petition for benefits if you can show enough evidence that your condition is comparable to one of the conditions included in any of the 15 disability categories below.

Musculoskeletal System Disorders (MSDs)

MSDs impact body connective tissues such as joints, tendons, or ligaments, and may cause muscle discomfort or nerve pain. They commonly develop in the workplace due to carrying heavy objects or reaching items in high places. If this is your condition, you need to consult with a lawyer and trace the possible onset of your MSD.

Social Security Benefits Claim Document/s: evidence of extreme limitation in one’s ability to walk, interference in the physical capacity to initiate, sustain, and complete activities

Examples of Qualified Conditions: Amputation, Back Pain, Bone Cancer, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Clubfoot, Degenerative Disc Disease, Dysautonomia, Fibromuscular Dysplasia, Fibromyalgia, Fractures in the Upper Extremity, Femur, Tibia, Pelvis, or Tarsal Bones; Gout, Herniated Disc, Hip or Knee Replacement, Inflammatory Arthritis, Joint Pain, Muscular Dystrophy, Neck Pain, Osteoarthritis, Paralysis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Ruptured Disc, Scoliosis, Shoulder Pain, Spinal Cord Injury, Spine Disorders, Torn ACL, Whiplash

Special Senses and Speech

Sometimes referred to as sensory organ disability, these conditions affect vision and hearing. Using the Social Security’s definition, these are abnormalities in the eye, optic nerve, or brain area affecting a person’s visual and reading ability; or having central visual acuity less than or equal to 20/200 in the better eye.

Social Security Benefits Claim Document/s: physical examination and detailed description of the specific qualifying impairments, medically accepted imaging results (X-ray, CAT scan, or MRI)

Examples of Qualified Conditions: Auditory Processing Disorder, Hearing Loss, Loss of Speech, Macular Degeneration, Retinitis Pigmentosa, Vision Loss

Respiratory Disorders

These refer to conditions affecting the lungs and organs responsible for breathing (exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen) and resulting in an obstruction or restriction. Common symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain, cough, wheezing, or respiratory infections. You can ask your disability attorney about the documentation needed for SSA to properly evaluate your case.

Social Security Benefits Claim Document/s: medical record and history, physical examination results, imaging tests, pulmonary function test result, and other relevant laboratory findings

Examples of Qualified Conditions: Asthma, Bronchiectasis, COPD or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or Other Chronic Persistent Infections of the Lungs, Cystic Fibrosis, Emphysema, Lung Transplant, Pulmonary Tuberculosis, Sleep Disorders such as Sleep Apnea, Varicose Veins

Cardiovascular System Disorders

These include both congenital or acquired conditions which affect the proper functioning of the heart (cardiovascular impairment) and lead to functional limitations. To be considered as qualifying impairments and get approved for social security disability benefits, your condition should be persistent (will last for at least 12 months)

Social Security Benefits Claim Document/s When you file a claim for SSDI or SSI benefits, the Social Security Administration will need to have a detailed account of your signs and symptoms and have copies of all your laboratory findings, medical records, and prescribed treatments

Examples of Qualified Conditions: Aneurysm (Aorta), Arrhythmias, Artery Disease, Blood Clots, Chest Pain, Heart Failure, Heart Transplant, Heart Valve Disorder, Hypertension, High Cholesterol, Ischemic Heart Disease, Mitral Valve Prolapse, Peripheral Arterial Disease, Symptomatic Congenital Heart Disease, Syncope (Fainting)

Digestive System Disorders

This category includes disorders that affect the digestive system and lead to complications like obstructions or produces symptomatic manifestations in other systems of the body.

Social Security Benefits Claim Document/s: reports of your endoscopy, operations, and pathology; medically acceptable imaging test results such as x-ray, CAT scan, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Examples of Qualified Conditions: Bowel Incontinence, Cirrhosis, Cancer of the Colon, Colitis, Crohn’s, GERD, Hepatitis, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Liver Disease, Short Bowel Syndrome, Stomach Pain, Ulcers

Genitourinary Disorders

The term genitourinary refers to your urinary and genital organs. Qualifying impairments and disorders under this category affect the genitourinary and lead to chronic kidney disease.

Social Security Benefits Claim Document/s: You and your social security disability attorney will need to gather medical records proving that your condition results in chronic kidney disease (CKD)

Examples of Qualified Conditions: Chronic Obstructive Uropathy, Interstitial Cystitis, Kidney Failure or Transplant, Nephrotic Syndrome

Hematological Disorders

These are disorders of the blood and other organs forming blood which cause disruptions in the development of a person’s white blood cells, red blood cells, clotting factor, and platelets. There are two subcategories considered as qualifying impairments in Social Security benefit claims: malignant/cancerous and non-malignant/non-cancerous conditions.

Social Security Benefits Claim Document/s: laboratory report of a definitive test establishing your hematological disorder signed by a physician, (if not signed by a doctor, includes a report signed by a medical professional stating that you have the disorder), or of none of the two documents are available, a persuasive physician report arguing that your diagnosis has been confirmed by laboratory/diagnostic method(s).

Examples of Qualified Conditions: Aplastic Anemias, Chronic Anemia, Chronic Liver Disease, Hemophilia, Liver Transplants, Multiple Myeloma, Polycythemia Vera, Sickle Cell Disease

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Skin Disorders

These can be congenital, hereditary, or pathologically acquired conditions of the skin or mucous membranes. When evaluating claims for disability payments, the Social Security Administration bases its assessment on your submitted medical evidence and information about the extent and effect of your treatments.

Social Security Benefits Claim Document/s: information about your condition’s onset and duration, frequency, prognosis (location, appearance, and size), history of chemical exposure or presence of other toxic substances which might have led to your disease, and laboratory findings

Examples of Qualified Conditions: Burns, Cellulitis, Chronic Skin Diseases, Dermatitis, Ichthyosis, Psoriasis

Endocrine Disorders

These pertain to conditions leading to hormonal imbalances in the body. Abnormal activity in the endocrine glands, such as the pituitary, thyroid, or adrenal glands, can produce too much or too little of an essential hormone leading to complications in the human body.

Social Security Benefits Claim Document/s: a record of hospital treatments and other medical findings, a detailed account as to how the condition affects your functional capacity to engage in substantial gainful activity

Examples of Qualified Conditions: Adrenal Gland Disorders, Diabetes, Hyperparathyroidism, Hyperglycemia, Hypoglycemia, Obesity, Pancreatic Gland Disorders, Pancreatitis, Pituitary Gland Disorders, Thyroid Gland Disorders

Congenital Disorders Affecting Multiple Body Systems

For social security benefit requests, the Social Security Administration only considers congenital disorders, which can deviate from, or interrupts the normal function of the body. For applicants with Down Syndrome, only the non-mosaic form is considered.

Social Security Benefits Claim Document/s: laboratory report of your karyotype analysis (for non-mosaic Down syndrome) signed by a physician, or a doctor’s statement attesting to you having a non-mosaic form, other medical evidence that your condition leads to specific functional limitation

Examples of Qualified Conditions: Caudal Regression Syndrome, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic Insomnia, Dwarfism, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Fragile X Syndrome,

Hereditary Telangiectasia, Non-mosaic Down Syndrome, Phenylketonuria, Trisomy X Syndrome

Neurological Disorders

These conditions affect the motor, bulbar and neuromuscular function, and leads to a communication impairment, or a combination of physical and mental limitations. The SSA evaluates neurological disorders based on a combination of these manifestations.

Social Security Benefits Claim Document/s: medical record, examination findings, laboratory tests, medically acceptable imaging test results (CT, MRI, EEG), prescribed treatment, and non-medical evidence like a statement about your qualifying impairments signed by another person and documenting how it restricts your work and daily activities

Examples of Qualified Conditions: Anterior Poliomyelitis, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy, Charcot-Marie-Tooth Syndrome, Convulsive Epilepsy, Dystonia, Hydrocephalus, Myasthenia Gravis, Narcolepsy, Neuralgia, Neuropathy, Non-convulsive Epilepsy, Parkinsonian Syndrome, Polio, Seizure Disorder, Stroke, Tourette’s Syndrome, or Traumatic Brain Injury

Mental Disorders

These conditions comprise a wide range of problems and symptoms that are generally characterized based on one’s non-normative thought, emotions, behavior, and relationships with other people.

Social Security Benefits Claim Document/s: You may present evidence from any of these three sources: medical professional/institution, people who know you well, school/work/training. This includes documents such as your medical, psychiatric, and psychological history, physical or mental status exam, structured clinical interview report, psychological rating scales, clinical findings, psychological testing, imaging results, laboratory findings, a listing of medications with dosages and names, therapy sessions, written observations or descriptions of your general functioning, individualized education or rehabilitation program, personal written assessment from a third party

Examples of Qualified Conditions: Anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders; Autism spectrum disorder; Depressive, bipolar and related disorders; Eating disorders; Intellectual disorder; Neurocognitive Disorders; Neurodevelopmental disorders; Personality and impulse-control disorders; Schizophrenia Spectrum and other Psychotic Disorders; Somatic symptom and related disorders; and Trauma- and stressor-related disorders

Malignant Neoplastic Diseases/Cancer

When evaluating cancers and malignant diseases, the Social Security Office will look at the origin, applicant’s environment, the extent of therapy, and the effect of treatments.

Social Security Benefits Claim Document/s: medical records specifying the type, extent, and site of the lesion, documentation of cancer’s metastasis, operative procedures and notes, pathology report, hospitalization record, and other medical reports

Examples of Qualified Conditions: Acute Leukemia, Cancer of different body organs, Carcinoid Tumors, Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia, Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML), Lymphedema, Lymphoma, Mesothelioma, Myelofibrosis, Soft Tissue Injury, Vascular Tumors

Immune System Disorders

This category of disability includes disorders that cause dysfunction in your immune system as a result of abnormalities in antibody production, cell-mediated immunity, deficiencies in cells and antibodies, impaired phagocytosis, or complement deficiency.

Social Security Benefits Claim Document/s: medical history, physical examination, laboratory test results, medically acceptable imaging or tissue biopsy

Examples of Qualified Conditions: Epstein-Barr Virus, Guillain Barre Syndrome, HIV or Human Immunodeficiency Virus, Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, Polymyositis, Scleroderma,

Systemic Vasculitis

Low Birth Weight and Failure to Thrive (Children)

This category applies only to children below the age of 18. The disability is evaluated based on the infant’s weight at birth. includes disorders that cause dysfunction in your immune system as a result of abnormalities in antibody production, cell-mediated immunity, deficiencies in cells and antibodies, impaired phagocytosis, or complement deficiency.

Social Security Benefits Claim Document/s: birth certificate, medical records signed by a physician, medical reports about child development

Examples of Qualified Conditions: Developmental Delays, Growth Delays, Low Birth Weights

For more details about the Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income, including program details, target beneficiaries, benefits, application, and appeals process, check out our resources:

  • Complete Guide to Understanding Social Security Disability Benefits.
  • Complete Guide to Understanding Supplemental Security Income Benefits.

Get Help From a Disability Attorney for Your Qualifying Impairments!

If your condition belongs to one of the 15 disability categories above, then you match the Social Security Administration’s eligibility criteria for disability and may have a good chance of receiving disability benefits.

Our lawyers from Orum Young Law can help increase the chances of getting your social security claim approved by assisting in the collection of necessary information and documentation to support evidence of your condition.

Ready to file your claim? Check our resource about How to Apply

Want to consult with a legal representative regarding disability filing concerns? Contact Orum Young Law today.