What Is Considered a Disability?

Submitted by rsg on

The SSA uses specific guidelines to determine what they consider to be a disability. It has compiled a list of medical conditions that may qualify for disability benefits.  This list is available to view in the SSA’s Blue Book. For anyone who is considering applying for disability benefits, it is advisable to carefully read the relevant section of the Blue Book.

What is the SSA’s Definition of Disability?

For anyone applying for disability benefits the law defines disability as not being able to participate in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) due to a diagnosed physical or mental impairment(s) which could result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for an uninterrupted period of no less than 12 months.

How Does the SSA Qualify A Disability?

The SSA uses 3 rules to determine if your disability is considered severe. These are listed below.

  • You are unable to work or make the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) of $1,470 per month because of your medical condition.
  • You cannot do previous work or adjust to a different type of work because of the medical condition.
  • The medical condition is expected to last for at least 1 year or result in your death.

For a disability benefits application to qualify for approval, all three criteria listed above must be met. For example, if an applicant’s medical condition prevents them from continuing the same sort of employment they have had up to the time of the application, but they still earn more than the SGA or they are capable of doing some other sort of work, their application will not be approved.

How Does The SSA Examine Specific Disabilities?

In the SSA’s Blue Book there are 14 sections which list medical conditions which may qualify for disability benefits.  These are:

1.00: Musculoskeletal Disorders;

2.00: Special Senses and Speech;

3.00: Respiratory Disorders;

4.00: Cardiovascular System;

5.00: Digestive System;

6.00: Genitourinary Disorders;

7.00: Hematological Disorders;

8.00: Skin Disorders;

9.00: Endocrine Disorders;

10.00: Congenital Disorders that Affect Multiple Body Systems;

11.00: Neurological Disorders;

12.00: Mental Disorders;

13.00: Cancer (Malignant Neoplastic Diseases);

14.00: Immune System Disorders.

Each main section is further subdivided into categories which provide details of symptoms which can be used to diagnose the condition as well as the sorts of diagnostic tools, tests and scans which can be used to help determine whether the condition is serious enough to qualify for disability benefits.

Get Help With Your SSD Claim

You can never be sure if your disability is severe enough to qualify for disability benefits but if you contact a lawyer, they may be able to help you gather all the medical evidence that proves you meet the SSAs definition of disabled.

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Additional Resources

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