Your Guide to Qualifying Conditions for Social Security Disability

Published on: September 2, 2020

There are countless illnesses for which you can receive Social Security disability benefits. From disorders of the cardiovascular system, such as heart failure and coronary artery disease, to mental conditions like depression and bipolar disorder, disability benefits are there to help you through.

So, let's take a look at just some of the categories of qualifying conditions for SSDI benefits

List of Medical Conditions that Qualify for Social Security Disability

This list of conditions that qualify for disability benefits is anything but exhaustive. There's a host of conditions for which you can receive benefits, but these examples of a few of the medical conditions accepted for SSDI benefits. 

Cardiovascular Conditions

You can qualify for disability benefits for certain cardiovascular conditions, such as coronary artery disease, heart failure, or heart attacks.

Congestive heart failure is a potentially fatal condition, where the heart can't pump a sufficient amount of blood, causing blood to pool up in the vessels. This can cause fluid to accumulate in other parts of the body, such as the lungs, liver, or legs.  

In order to qualify for disability benefits for heart failure, your medical records must indicate systolic or diastolic heart failure. Systolic heart failure is when your heart isn't pumping at its prime efficiency. This can specifically be defined when the percentage of blood being pumped out of the heart is 30 percent or less, during a period of stability.

On the other hand, diastolic failure is when the heart isn't able to fill properly. This can be proven when the thickness of the left ventricular wall and the interventricular septum is 2.5 cm or larger on imaging; when there's an enlarged left atrium that's 4.5 cm or larger, and when there's a normal or elevated ejection fraction during a period of stability.

Respiratory Disorders

Difficulty breathing is a common reason why people are unable to hold employment and therefore apply for disability benefits. Illnesses or conditions that qualify for disability under this category include diseases such as cystic fibrosis, sleep apnea, and COPD diseases, such as emphysema and asthma.

Cancers that affect proper lung function, including lung cancer and mesothelioma, also apply. The SSA will look at how frequently you have episodes when you require medical care for disorders like asthma and infections.   

Neurological Problems

Disorders affecting the neurological system include cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, or MS. Qualifying conditions can fall under spinal neurological disorders, neurodegenerative diseases, and medical conditions relating to the central or peripheral nervous system.  

Mental Health Disabilities

Mental health disabilities are another set of qualifying conditions for which you can receive disability benefits. Listings include disorders ranging from depression and anxiety-related illnesses to psychotic disorders and learning disabilities. However, the SSA has a list of strict criteria to meet for your mental health disability to be considered disabling enough for benefits. 

For example, clinical depression isn't just feeling sad; it's a chemical imbalance in the brain that can cause victims to experience utter hopelessness and constant thoughts of suicide. In order to qualify for benefits for depression, you have to be properly diagnosed by a doctor. The doctor will evaluate your condition against the common symptoms of depression. If you have at least four of them, you may be eligible for benefits.

If your mental health disorder is not listed in the Blue Book, you can still receive disability benefits by proving to the SSA that you are unable to hold even an unskilled job due to your condition. 

Compromised Immune Systems

Immune system disorders can range from HIV infection to Hashimoto’s disease, Grave’s disease, and even psoriasis. Your immune system is supposed to protect you from disease, but then it fails to work properly, it can lead to debilitating diseases that prevent you from holding a job.

Since there is a wide range of immune system disorders, the SSA has a serious set of criteria to determine if a compromised immune system condition is severe enough for Social Security disability benefits.   

Digestive System Disorders

Severe medical problems with the digestive system can disable someone and render them unable to work. This includes disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn's disease. 

Even if you have a disorder not listed in the SSA’s blue book, such as celiac disease, GERD, or gout, you may still be able to be eligible for disability benefits if you can prove to the SSA how debilitating your problem is. Social Security will investigate how your disorder limits your ability to hold a job. 

Sensory Disabilities

Vision and hearing loss will fall under this category, as well as Vertigo, Meniere’s Disease, and similar balance issues. Speech disabilities can also be eligible for disability benefits. 


Cancer is another serious condition that affects millions every year. Depending on your specific type of cancer and its particular stage, you may be able to receive benefits.

Breast cancer is a common type of cancer, and there are certain conditions that must be met in order to qualify for disability. If cancer has spread, is inoperable, and re-occurs, then it is likely that you are eligible for benefits.

Most types of aggressive brain cancers qualify for disability benefits, as well. If you're suffering from glioblastoma multiform, medulloblastoma, or grades 3 and 4 astrocytomas and ependymoblastoma, you will most definitely qualify for benefits.

Esophageal cancer is often a more serious form of cancer, and it's usually discovered in its later stages. Those that have it, often qualify for disability benefits. In order to qualify, the origin of the malignancy must be identified. Additionally, you'll be asked to provide details on the types of treatments you've had, such as their duration and frequency.

Various Other Medical Impairments & Conditions

This is only an overview of the qualifying conditions for Social Security disability benefits. There are plenty of other illnesses or conditions that qualify for benefits not listed here. A few other qualifying conditions include:

  • Various syndromes, such as Sjogren’s Syndrome
  • Hematological disorders, such as hemolytic anemias
  • Genitourinary disorders
  • Dermatitis or similar skin diseases
  • Musculoskeletal medical conditions, including severe back injuries and Osteoarthritis

For the most in-depth understanding of qualifying conditions for Social Security disability benefits, check out the SSA’s Blue Book.

It’s also important to remember that you can still receive benefits even if your medical conditions are not listed as qualifying conditions in the Blue Book. With the help of expert disability advocates, you can prove to the SSA that your condition warrants disability benefits to help you live a fulfilled life. 

Additionally, if you've been denied for your condition, you're going to need the help of a highly experienced disability advocate. They'll be able to get you the compensation you need, so you can take the time to focus on the things that matter most in life. So, don’t hesitate! Contact DEF today. 


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