Social Security Disability Resource Center
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For which medical conditions can you apply for disability?
There are many medical conditions (physical or mental) that you may prevent you from working and earning enough to support yourself (this concept is known as substantial gainful activity). Consequently, you may apply for social security disability or SSI disability benefits for practically any medical condition, or any combination of medical conditions.
What are valid conditions for Social Security?
You can apply for Social Security disability for any disabling condition or conditions that:
1. Are medically determinable severe mental impairments or physical impairments;
2. Prevent you from performing substantial gainful (work) activity, or SGA;
3. Have lasted twelve months, are expected to last twelve months, or may possible end in death.
The definition of disability for the purposes of a Social Security disability determination not only involves a severe debilitating mental and/or physical condition but the inability to perform SGA. The performance of SGA-level work activity is so important to the disability process that your disability claim will be denied without a medical determination (even if your condition is terminal) if you are performing SGA. Your disability claim can only proceed if you are not working, or your monthly earnings are below the monthly SGA limit.
The Social Security list of impairments
Social Security uses a five step sequential evaluation process to make their disability determinations. The first three steps involve an SGA determination, establishing that you have a severe impairment that has lasted or is expected to last twelve continuous months, and whether or not your disabling condition meets or equals the criteria of an impairment listing.
Social Security uses a disability guidebook called the Blue Book, often referred to as the Social Security Disability list of of impairments, to establish criteria for Social Security disability based on certain medical conditions.
The Blue Book contains impairment listings for the: musculoskeletal system, special senses (vision and hearing) and speech, respiratory system ,cardiovascular system, digestive system, genito-urinary system, hemic and lymphatic system, skin, endocrine system, multiple body systems, neurological, mental disorders, neoplastic diseases, and the immune system. Each impairment listing lists the criteria needed to meet or equal the severity requirements for Social Security disability.
If your disabling condition meets or equals an impairment listing, the sequential disability evaluation process stops and you may be approved for disability benefits.
However, it is difficult to meet or equal an impairment listing; therefore the vast majority of disability claims are evaluated through steps four and five before a decision is made.
What if you can't get approved on a listing?
Most individuals who get awarded disability are approved not on a listing, but, instead, after their medical records are examined, and their work history is evaluated, and the decision is made that they cannot do their past work or any other work.
In steps four and five of the evaluation process, disability examiners must first evaluate your ability to perform any of your past relevant work (relevant work can be any job that you performed in the past fifteen years that lasted three months or more and for which your earnings were SGA). If they determine that you can perform one of your past jobs, your disability claim will be denied at step four.
But, if you cannot perform any of your past work, you are not approved yet. The examiner must still consider your ability to perform other types of work after considering your education, age, residual functional capacity, and job skills. If they determine you can do some other kind of work, your disability claim will be denied at step five.
However if they determine you are not able do any other kind of work your disability claim may be approved through a medical vocational allowance.
For this reason, the social security administration will evaluate a claimant's work history and medical history. This is to determine what the requirements of their past jobs were. By comparing an individual's present limitations to their past work requirements, social security can gauge whether or not it is reasonable to expect a person to be able to go back to a former job.
Also, by examining a person's work history, the social security administration can determine if it is possible for an individual to seek another type of employment based on a variety of factors including their age, education and job skills.
Additional information: Medical Disability Requirements for SSD and SSI
Social Security Disability and SSI Resource Center
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Social Security Disability Requirements
Social Security Disability list of impairments
Social Security Disability Application
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Social Security Disability SSI and whether or not you can work
Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability
Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers
More Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers
Common Questions about Social Security Disability and SSI
Winning Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits
The SSI Disability Benefits Program
Medical exams for disability claims
Applying for Disability in various states
Social Security Disability SSI and Doctors - Yours and Theirs
Social Security Disability and SSI Claim Reviews
Social Security Disability SSI System and Benefits for Children
Denials, Appeals, and Getting a Disability Lawyer or Representative
What you should know about Social Security Disability and SSI Denials
Questions about Disability Lawyers and Hiring a Disability Attorney
Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits
FAQ on Disability Claim Representation
Disability hearings before Judges
Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers
Various Types of Benefits including SSI, Mental, and Child benefits
Social Security and SSI based on Mental Disability
Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits for Children
Disability Benefits through Social Security
Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits
Social Security Disability SSI: Medical Evidence and Records
Filing your claim for disability benefits
Eligibility for receiving disability benefits
Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved
FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions
The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration
Resources on this site
Social Security Disability, SSI Terms and Definitions
Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI
About the Author of SSDRC, Tim Moore
For Individuals living in North Carolina
Applying for Disability in North Carolina
North Carolina Disability Lawyer
Should you Look at the Disability File that Social Security has on You?
How do I apply for a Social Security disability widow’s claim?
Who handles my case if I apply for Social Security disability?
Social Security Disability Application Online
Can I apply for disability online?
Can I Collect Unemployment While I File For Disability Benefits (SSD or SSI)?
What medical conditions can you apply for disability for?
To Apply For SSI or SSD Disability Benefits, Where do I Start?
When You Apply For Disability, write Down Everything That Is Wrong With You
When I Apply For Disability, Should I List My Old Meds From Years Ago?
When I Apply for Disability - Should I apply for social Security disability or SSI?
What happens if you are working when you file for disability or work after you apply?
If Social Security Turns Down My Case Can I apply For Disability A Second Time?
What medical conditions get you approved for disability?
Can you get a quick disability approval in Missouri
How long does it take for a disability decision in missouri?
Will I qualify for disability Benefits in Missouri?
These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it