June 18, 2024

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Politics and Law

What Conditions Automatically Qualify You for Disability?

4 min read
What Conditions Automatically Qualify You for SSD? | FAQ

The Social Security Administration (SSA) administers two major programs that pay monthly benefits to disabled Americans, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI or SSD), and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. While both programs do recognize a list of severe impairments that will qualify for disability benefits if the criteria published for each such listed impairment is present, it can’t really be said that they are “automatically” qualified.

Our firm has extensive experience preparing, filing, and fighting for the fullest disability benefits available for each of our clients. Whether you need to file an initial claim or you want to appeal the denial of a claim, our disability law and advocacy firm can assist you from start to finish. Contact us at if you have want to discuss the details of your case. We are here to help.

Before we discuss the disabling impairments that the SSA recognizes to be clearly qualifying if the right conditions are met, we should look at what the basic eligibility criteria is for any claimed disability. 

What Does Social Security Recognize as a “Disability?”

The SSD program and the SSI program are very different in many ways. Each program has different eligibility requirements, different methods of determining benefit payment amounts, and different health insurance coverage. But they share one important feature; they both define a qualifying disability in the same terms:

A disability (for Social Security) is any physical or mental impairment that lasts or is expected to last for at least 12 months (or result in death) and prevents the person from engaging in substantial gainful activities (SGAs).

The SGA is the SSA’s way of determining whether a disability claimant is truly unable to earn a living because of their impairment. SGA is an acronym for “substantial gainful activities.” The Social Security Administration considers a person unable to perform substantial gainful activities in 2024 if they are unable to earn $1,150 per month, or $2,550 if the claimant is blind.

Compassionate Allowance Listing (CAL)

There is on category of disabilities that Social Security recognizes as so severe and so clearly disabling that these claims are fast-tracked through the determination process so the claimant can begin to receive benefits as quickly as possible. These diseases and conditions included in the CAL list are all very destructive of the human body, including many cancers, ALS, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, metastatic or inoperable cancers of several types, and other severe illnesses with poor prognoses. The current roster of Compassionate Allowance List conditions can be found here.

Blue Book of Listed Impairments

 SSA’s Listing of Clearly Qualifying Disabilities — the Blue Book

The Social Security Administration publishes a manual listing a wide range of specific illnesses, diseases, and conditions along with the detailed symptoms, findings, test results, and other criteria the government will recognize as satisfying each diagnosis. While no diagnosis must be stated by the claimant’s treating healthcare providers, the medical records must reveal the presence of the required elements.

The manual is commonly called the Blue Book of Listed Impairments. It includes 14 groups of impairments, divided by the organs or bodily functions involved with the impairment. They include the following:

• Musculoskeletal Disorders

• Special Senses and Speech

• Respiratory Disorders

• Cardiovascular System

• Digestive System

• Genitourinary Disorders

• Hematological Disorders

• Skin Disorders

• Endocrine Disorders

• Congenital Disorders that Affect Multiple Body Systems

• Neurological Disorders

• Mental Disorders

• Cancer (Malignant Neoplastic Diseases)

• Immune System Disorders

Under each one of these subheadings the Social Security Administration lists several diseases, impairments, and conditions which are required to have specific features, measurements, lab test results, x-rays, or other usually objectively confirmable symptoms and limitations. If a claimant’s medical records show the presence of the required elements, then disability benefits are sure to be approved. 

However, if a claimant’s impairment fails to meet one of the listed criteria, then they may not be approved unless other factors or other impairments claimed in the application tip the scales in their favor. 

This is one of the primary reasons and key values of having a skilled and experienced disability handle your Social Security disability claim.

The purpose of the Blue Book is to remove as much subjectivity from the claim evaluation process as possible. For example, if a listed disability requires medical records to include a lab test result equal to a set number, those claimants whose medical records include that test result will usually be approved for disability benefits. Of course, each impairment has specific criteria that the claim must meet to “match” a “Blue Book” listed disability.

Get Expert Help Qualifying for Social Security Disability

Any person thinking about filing a disability claim can become confused by the Social Security Administration. Even many lawyers who are unfamiliar with the forms, the terminology, and process can make errors. 

Our disability law team includes highly trained expert advocates who work with disability claims every day. We can help you or your family member find out all you need to know about disability benefits and then help you prepare, file for, and win approval of the SSD or SSI benefits to which you are entitled. 

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