Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are available to disabled workers that meet all medical and technical qualification rules.
To get Social Security disability through this Social Security Administration (SSA) disability program, you must have worked and paid into the Social Security system through taxes. You must additionally be able to meet a disability listing for one of the many qualifying conditions for SSDI. Complete the Free Case Evaluation above to get assistance with your SSDI claim.
SSDI Qualifying Conditions
In order to qualify for Social Security disability benefits, your disability needs to match one of the listings found the SSA’s Blue Book.
The Blue Book is the list of qualifying conditions that can get approved for Social Security disability. The SSA’s Blue Book will tell you what medical records and paperwork are needed with your application for that particular disabling condition.
The SSA will refer to its list of qualifying conditions in the Blue Book when they are looking at your application for Social Security disability benefits.
There are hundreds of SSDI qualifying conditions. Some of the most common conditions that qualify for SSDI include different forms of cancer, blindness, respiratory diseases like COPD, digestive disorders like IBD, chronic kidney disease, dermatitis, epilepsy, and anxiety to name a few.
If you are thinking about applying for Social Security disability, you will want to double check the SSA’s Blue Book and see if your disabling condition is there.
Disability Listings in the Blue Book
Disabling conditions that meet the severity level requirements for approval are found in the SSA’s Blue Book. Physicians utilize the Blue Book when helping patients know if they meet Social Security disability requirements.
Disability claims examiners additionally use this manual when reviewing applications for eligibility.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) refers to a medical guide called the Blue Book to determine the qualifying conditions for SSDI. Each section lists the eligible medical conditions, as well as describes the severity of symptoms required to receive financial assistance.
A team of medical examiners from the SSA reviews the medical records that you attach to your claim and then compares the records to the standards established by the Blue Book.
The Blue Book comes into play during the initial claim, as well as the first stage of the appeals process called reconsideration. Here is an overview of the SSDI listings:
1.00 Musculoskeletal Disorders: Disorders of the spine or the upper/lower extremities that influence the functioning of the musculoskeletal system.
2.00 Special Senses: Abnormalities of the eye that cause a loss of vision.
3.00 Respiratory Disorders: Restriction or obstruction of the lungs that impairs breathing.
4.00 Cardiovascular System: Any medical condition that negatively impacts the functioning of the heart or the circulatory system.
5.00 Digestive System: Complications of the digestive system that undermine the performance of other systems of the body.
6.00 Genitourinary Disorders: Medical conditions that result in chronic kidney disease.
7.00 Hematological Disorders: Medical conditions that disrupt the development of red and white blood cells, as well as platelets and clotting-factor proteins.
8.00 Skin Disorders: Any disorder, whether hereditary, congenital, or acquired through pathological processes, that impedes the development of healthy skin.
9.00 Endocrine Disorders: A disorder that produces a hormonal imbalance that generates too much or too little of a specific hormone.
11.00 Neurological Disorders: Causes the deterioration of motor function and communication skills that can indicate the presence of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
12.00 Mental Disorders: This category is arranged into 11 sub-categories that include autism, bipolar, and depression disorders.
13.00 Cancer: Covers all cancers except those associated with an HIV infection.
14.00 Immune System Disorders: Dysfunction of one or more components on the immune system.
Medical Evidence Requirements
In addition to listing qualifying conditions for SSDI, the Blue Book also outlines the medical evidence required for approval with disability. Essential pieces of medical evidence are detailed under the individual listing for each condition.
There is also information provided at the beginning of each major section of the Blue Book, describing how the SSA evaluates disabilities that fall under that body system.
This introductory information commonly includes the tests and other crucial details the SSA must see in your medical records in order to grant approval for Social Security disability.
For this reason, it’s important for you, your doctor, and/or your disability advocate or attorney to not only look at the qualifying conditions for SSDI, but also the introduction of the Blue Book section where your condition is listed.
This will give you insight into how the SSA reviews claims like yours and it will often tell you the exact tests and other medical proof need for you to be approved for Social Security disability.
Meeting or Matching a Listed Condition
You may be wondering what conditions qualify for disability? Listed conditions include physical, intellectual, and psychological impairments. Regardless of which type of disability you have, there are standard processes the SSA uses in reviewing applications. They first compare your medical records to disability listings, attempting to determine if your condition meets the outlined criteria for one of the many qualifying conditions for SSDI.
If you’re unable to exactly meet Blue Book requirements, then the SSA will compare your medical records for a “severity level match” to a listed impairment. If your disability equals a qualified condition, then you’re eligible for Social Security disability.
Does a Disability Need to Match a Listing in the Blue Book?
If you are applying for disability and your symptoms and medical evidence to your claim up don’t match an exact listing, you still may be able to qualify for Social Security disability benefits.
You don’t have to necessarily match the listing in order to qualify for disability. You can still qualify for disability even if you don’t match a Blue Book listing by qualifying though a residual functional capacity evaluation. A RFC evaluation shows your physical and mental limitations to see if they prevent you from working.
If the RFC evaluation shows that due to your physical and mental limitations, you cannot perform the same basic job functions that you could before you became disabled, you can still qualify for Social Security disability benefits, even if you do not match a listing in the SSA’s Blue Book.
Approval Through an RFC
If you cannot meet or closely match a listing, you can still be approved for Social Security disability through a “residual functional capacity” or RFC evaluation. During an RFC, the SSA looks at looks at your physical and mental limitations to determine if they prevent you from working. If this evaluation shows you cannot work in any job, then you will be approved despite not meeting or matching one of the qualifying conditions for SSDI.
What is the Compassionate Allowance Program?
If you do not meet the SSDI qualifying conditions for a certain category, you might qualify for financial assistance under the Compassionate Allowance Program (CAP).
CAP represents an expedited process that grants SSDI applicants quicker access to financial resources than they would ordinarily receive. A majority of the Social Security disability qualifying conditions for CAP are defined as rare diseases, although some medical conditions are more commonly diagnosed.
The medical and scientific communities suggest new additions to the CAP list, and individuals also can recommend medical conditions to join the list of CAP diseases and illnesses.
Every medical condition that makes the CAP list is considered a serious ailment, with many of the medical conditions labeled as terminal illnesses.
To get the green light for CAP financial assistance from the SSA, you must present persuasive evidence that includes the results of every diagnostic test conducted for your particular ailment.
For example, diagnostic tests that demonstrate the rapid spread of a type of cancer can help you gain approval for a CAP application.
One of the Social Security disability of applying for a compassionate allowance is the SSA decides on your claim much quicker than if you went through the standard SSDI claim process. You might decide to work with a Social Security Disability advocate or a Social Security attorney to ensure your CAP claim includes the most convincing medical evidence possible.
What Disabilities Are More Likely to Qualify for Social Security Disability?
Some disabilities are more likely to qualify for disability than others, conditions like cancer, COPD and arthritis in the spine are conditions that get are more likely to qualify for disability.
That is because of the severity of those conditions, as well as the medical documents and evidence you need to back up your claim that your disability is severe enough that you can no longer work full time.
Physical disabilities are much more likely to qualify for disability benefits compared to mental disabilities, because physical disabilities are much more easier to prove and backup through medical evidence. With that being said, any condition that is on the list of qualifying conditions for Social Security disability benefits can qualify for disability.
Qualifying For SSDI
To qualify for SSDI you will need to meet the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) medical requirements, but you’ll also need to meet other requirements such as accumulation of enough work credits. You earn Social Security work credits throughout your life when you work and pay Social Security taxes.
When you apply for SSDI, the SSA’s SSDI work credit calculator calculates how many work credits you have earned. In 2022, you gain one work credit for every $1,640 of earnings, up to a maximum of four credits annually which requires you to earn $6,560.
How many work credits you need to qualify for SSDI depends on the age you are when you become disabled. For example, if you haven’t yet reached 24 years you will require 18 months of work or 6 credits in the three years before you became disabled.
If you are 31 years or older you will require at least 20 credits earned in the 10 years before you became disabled. At age 44 years you will need to work for 5 ½ years and have accumulated 22 work credits. At 50 years you will require 28 work credits gained from 7½ years of work. At 56 years of age you will require 34 work credits gained from 8 ½ years of work. At age 62 plus years you will need to have worked for 10 years to gain 40 work credits.
The SSA keeps a work record for you which you can access online once you have registered and if you become disabled you can check if you have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI.
Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits
You can apply for disability on your own or with the help of a friend, family member, disability advocate, or Social Security attorney. Applications for SSDI can be filled out and submitted online, via the SSA’s website, or you can apply in person at your local Social Security office. You have the option of appealing the SSA's decision if it is denied initially.
Your doctor is an ally of central importance when you apply for Social Security disability as well. He or she can ensure your medical records are shared in a timely manner with the disability examiner that reviews your claim for benefits. Your doctor can additionally help you understand the various listings for qualifying conditions for SSDI and under which listing you’re most likely to be approved for benefits. You can also submit a disability doctor letter of support for your claim.
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