What is a disability?

For purposes of Social Security disability, the Social Security Administration (SSA) requires that:

  • The disability keeps you from doing the work you did before.

  • The disability prevents you from adjusting to other work.

  • The disability has lasted or will last at least one year or will result in death.

One way to prove that you have a disability that will qualify you for Social Security disability is to prove that you are disabled pursuant to the criteria outlined in the Social Security Blue Book.

Listed Conditions for Social Security Disability Benefits

The Social Security Blue Book is a guide of impairments that the Social Security Administration (SSA) considers to be disabling enough to qualify for benefits. It provides a baseline for disorders—both physical and mental—that the SSA feels will inhibit a person’s ability to work, and consequently create the need for disability assistance.

The SSA states that suffering from one or more of these conditions will automatically qualify an individual for Social Security disability benefits. However, once qualified, the condition must be proved to be severe enough to fulfill eligibility requirements.

This book, referred to as "Listing of Impairments," includes Part A, adult listings (age 18 and over), and Part B, childhood listings (under age 18). The adult listings are categorized as follows:

  • Musculoskeletal system. Injuries or conditions that affect the muscles, joints, and limbs—especially within the back—may qualify you for Social Security disability.

  • Special senses and speech. Vision loss, hearing loss and loss of speech may qualify you for Social Security disability.

  • Respiratory disorders. Asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis, and other breathing disabilities can limit a person’s activity level enough to make him eligible for benefits.

  • Cardiovascular problems. Heart failure, coronary artery disease, and tachycardia are only a few conditions that fall into this category. If you have certain heart problems or circulatory system conditions, then you may qualify for benefits.

  • Digestive system. Serious digestive system problems such as gastrointestinal hemorrhage, liver dysfunction, inflammatory bowel disease, and others may qualify you for Social Security disability benefits if your condition warrants it.

  • Genitourinary disorders. Genitourinary disorders that may result in chronic kidney disease are addressed in the Blue Book and may qualify you for benefits.

  • Hematological disorders. Non-malignant hematological disorders (such as hemolytic anemias), disorders of thrombosis and hemostasis, and disorders of bone marrow failure may result in Social Security disability benefits.

  • Skin disorders. Severe skin conditions, such as dermatitis and burns, are included in this section of the Blue Book.

  • Endocrine disorders. Hormonal imbalances may be considered a disability if they meet the specific requirements in this part of the Blue Book.

  • Congenital disorders that affect multiple body systems. Non-mosaic Down syndrome may be considered a disability for purposes of adult Social Security disability benefits.

  • Neurological disorders. Multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, Parkinson's disease, and epilepsy can be considered detrimental enough in daily activities to limit the ability to work safely, thus qualifying you for disability. Spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries may also result in neurological disorders.

  • Mental disorders. Severe depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, autism, intellectual disability, and other conditions are considered in this section of the Blue Book and may result in Social Security disability benefits.

  • Cancers. Most types of cancer may be considered pursuant to Section 13 of the Blue Book.

  • Immune system disorders. HIV/AIDS, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis are only a few of the immune system conditions that can limit activity and may be considered for Social Security disability.

Each of these categories breaks down into complicated explanations of how the SSA determines whether the condition is severe enough to qualify you for Social Security disability benefits. These determinations include extensive medical documentation and a complete application for benefits.

Contact a Social Security Disability Lawyer—Even If Your Condition Is Included in the Blue Book

Regardless of whether your condition is included in the Blue Book, your eligibility for Social Security disability is not automatic. Many people who have conditions that are included in the Blue Book have valid Social Security disability applications denied because of application mistakes or omissions. This may prevent you from getting the benefits that you deserve or delay your benefit significantly while you go through the Social Security disability appeals process—don’t let this happen to you.

At Keefe Law we believe that no one should be forced to work if he is physically, mentally, or emotionally unable to do so without suffering extreme pain or putting himself or others in danger. This is why we are passionate about fighting to make sure our clients get the benefits that they deserve. Contact us today by calling 508-283-5500 to ask for a free evaluation of your claim.

Are You Looking for a Social Security Disability Attorney in Boston, MA?

If you are looking to apply for social security disability, you need to speak with an experienced social security disability lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Natick Office directly at 508.283.5500 to schedule your free consultation.

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John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer