What Medical Conditions Qualify for Social Security Disability or SSI?
An illness or disease does not need to be listed in Social Security's blue book to qualify for disability benefits.
The Social Security Administration's impairment listing manual (called the blue book) lists a number of impairments, both physical and mental, that will automatically qualify an individual for Social Security disability benefits (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), provided the individual's condition meets, or is equivalent to, the specified criteria for a listing.
What Medical Conditions Are Listed?
The listing manual for 2016 includes:
- musculoskeletal problems, such as back injuries
- cardiovascular conditions, such as heart failure or coronary artery disease
- senses and speech issues, such as vision and hearing loss
- respiratory illnesses, such as COPD or asthma
- neurological disorders, such as multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, Parkinson's disease, and epilepsy
- mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, autism, or retardation
- immune system disorders, such as HIV/AIDS, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis
- various syndromes, such as Sjogren's Syndrome and Marfan Syndrome
- skin disorders, such as dermatitis
- digestive tract problems, such as liver disease or IBD
- kidney disease and genitourinary problems, and
- hematological disorders, such as hemolytic anemias and disorders of bone marrow failure
For disability articles on many common conditions, some of which are in the blue book and some of which aren't, see Medical Conditions, Impairments, and Problems.
Does a Medical Condition Have to Match the Blue Book Listing?
An individual filing for Social Security disability benefits does not necessarily have to satisfy the exact listing requirements for a particular illness or condition (such as rheumatoid arthritis) to be awarded disability benefits based on this condition. You can also be awarded disability benefits if Social Security considers aspects of your condition medically equivalent to the criteria in the listing or a related listing. This is called "equaling a disability listing."
You can also be eligible for disability benefits if you don't meet or equal the criteria for the blue book listing for your condition if your condition limits your functioning so much that you can't work. The SSA will consider the effect of your condition on your capacity to perform routine daily activities and work and will then determine whether there is any kind of job you can safely be expected to do. For more information, see our section on how Social Security decides if your limitations make you disabled.
Does a Medical Condition Have to Be in the Blue Book?
A Social Security disability claimant doesn't even have to have an impairment that is listed in the Social Security disability blue book to be awarded disability benefits. For instance, migraine headaches are not included in the blue book, but if a claimant's migraines are severe enough and are well documented, the SSA may grant disability benefits if the migraines make it impossible for the disability applicant to work a full-time job. The keys here are that the condition be a medically determinable impairment and that it either reduces your RFC so that you can't do your prior job or it qualifies you for a medical-vocational allowance.
Our website has hundreds of articles written by disability lawyers about getting disability for most medical conditions. The articles include a discussion of whether your condition meets a disability listing, equals a disability listing, or should be eligible for a medical-vocational allowance. Read about getting disability for your specific condition.