Overview of Disability

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Disability Requirements

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Disability Advice Tips

How long do cases take?

How to win Disability

SSD Mistakes to avoid

Disability for Mental

What if you get denied?

How to file Appeals

Disability through SSA

SSI Disability Benefits

Disability for Children

How do I qualify for it?

Working and Disability

Disability Award Notice

Disability Lawyer Q&A

Disability Conditions List

What is a disability?

Your Medical Evidence

Filing for your Disability

Disability Eligibility

SSD SSI Definitions

Recent Questions

SSDRC Disability Blog

What medical conditions can you apply for disability for?

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.

You can apply for Social Security disability for any disabling condition or conditions that:

1. Are medically determinable severe mental 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.

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.

Steps four and five involve an evaluation of your ability perform substantial work activity. 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.

If you cannot perform any of your past work, the examiner must 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 in addition to their 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

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Related pages:

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?

Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | 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 | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

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