What Conditions Qualify for Social Security Disability?

Conditions from asthma, to back pain, to depression, cancer, and schizophrenia may qualify a person for disability. However, it is not just the “right” diagnosis that will qualify you. Your condition must be of a certain severity for your claim to be approved. 

Social Security has a very specific definition of disability: You must be unable to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA) as a result of a mental or physical impairment, or combination of impairments, that has lasted or is expected to last 12 months, or result in death.

This seems simple enough, but Social Security actually follows a very detailed and somewhat confusing evaluation process called sequential evaluation. This process looks at not just your diagnosis, but how that diagnosis impacts your daily life and your ability to work, or your ability to function similar to your peers if you are a child. I have discussed in detail the sequential evaluation process in these posts, here, here and here. For more information on exactly what Social Security looks for, please read those posts. However, for those of you who just want an idea of what conditions may be severe enough to be considered disabling, here is a lengthy, but non-exhaustive, list.

  • Amputation
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Attention-Deficit Disorder (ADD)
  • Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Benign brain tumors
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Blindness
  • Bone fractures
  • Burns
  • Cancer (skin, leukemia, breast, thyroid, etc.)
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Chronic Heart Failure
  • Chronic Liver Disease
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Deafness
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • Dementia and related impairments
  • Depression
  • Dermatitis
  • Developmental disorders
  • Diabetes
  • Down Syndrome
  • Eating disorders
  • Fibromyalgia
  • HIV
  • Ichthyosis
  • Inflammatory arthritis
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Intellectual Disorder
  • Kidney Disease
  • Low birth weight
  • Lung Transplantation
  • Lupus
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Neurocognitive disorders
  • Obsessive-Compulsive disorder
  • Peripheral Arterial Disease
  • Personality disorders
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Recurrent Arrhythmias
  • Respiratory failure
  • Seizures
  • Sickle Cell Disease
  • Traumatic Brain Injury

For a more in depth discussion of applying for SSI and SSDI if you have a psychiatric disorder, read my post here.

It is important to repeat here that just because you have one of these diagnoses does not mean you will automatically be approved. Social Security needs much more information before they will approve your case, and no one case is like another. I hear a lot of “well my neighbor has depression and gets SSI, so so should I.” That is simply not how it works, which is why it can be helpful to talk to an experienced disability advocate about your case to see if applying may be right for you.

Author: Kathryn L. Blevins, Esq.

Attorney. Small business owner. Military family. I am the owner and attorney at Blevins Law, LLC. My firm focuses on Social Security disability claims (SSI and SSDI), Veterans' Disability Compensation, Advance Medical Directives and medical and financial powers of attorney. I also assist veterans assessing other types of VA benefits they may be eligible for. I am licensed in Maryland and Washington, D.C., and am a VA Accredited Attorney. I am the proud wife of an Army veteran, and the proud mother of two amazing children and three rescued fur children.

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