Many people who suffer from a debilitating injury or illness are unsure whether their condition enables them to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. The answer isn’t always obvious.
To be considered, applicants must have a condition that meets Social Security’s “disability” definition, meaning an illness that prevents them from working for at least a year or could result in death.
Which conditions are considered “automatic” for receiving benefits?
While no definitive list exists for SSDI-qualifying conditions, the best resource is the Social Security Blue Book, which details the mental and physical disorders that meet the requirements. Part A, for adult conditions, details 14 categories, including:
- Chronic kidney disease
- Cardiovascular: Heart failure, arrhythmia and congenital heart disease
- Endocrine: Diabetes and thyroid problems
- Digestive: Liver or bowel disease
- Respiratory: Cystic fibrosis, asthma and COPD
- Immune system: Lupus, HIV and inflammatory arthritis
- Musculoskeletal: Spinal disorders, joint pain and amputation
- Blood: Hemophilia, sickle cell disease and other anemias
- Skin: Dermatitis, burns and ichthyosis
- Congenital: Disorders affecting multiple systems, such as Down syndrome
- Speech and other senses: Impaired sight, hearing or speech
- Neurological: Parkinson’s disease, traumatic brain injuries, ALS, MS and epilepsy
- Mental and cognitive health: Dementia, depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia
The above conditions are a few examples of those covered under SSDI guidelines. Consult the Blue Book for a detailed list. Part B has childhood listings, which contain the above categories and add a child-specific section.
The Blue Book is not the final word on eligibility
Even if your condition isn’t included in the Blue Book, or it’s on the list but you don’t meet the requirements, you may still qualify for benefits if an examiner determines your impairment is severe and you are unable to work as a result.
It is advisable to work with an experienced disability attorney to file the appropriate paperwork. Many claims are denied at the initial stages because people don’t provide mandatory information. Your lawyer understands how the system works, including special rules that Social Security uses to determine eligibility.