The Social Security Administration (SSA) publishes a list of debilitating impairments which describes the physical and mental impairments that make applicants automatically eligible for Social Security Disability (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Individuals who are able to meet the medical criteria for one of the listed impairments automatically qualify for benefits and are usually approved during the initial application process.
SSDI and SSI Qualifying Medical Impairments
The following conditions are listed as qualifying impairments in the Social Security Administration’s adult “blue book”:
- Musculoskeletal Conditions: Includes major joint dysfunctions, spine disorders, amputations, tarsal bone fractures, upper extremity fractures, and soft tissue injuries.
- Respiratory Conditions: Includes many chronic respiratory disorders, asthma, cystic fibrosis, chronic pulmonary hypertension, and lung transplants.
- Cardiovascular Conditions: Congenital or acquired disorders that affect the functioning of the heart or circulatory system. Examples include chronic heart failure and coronary artery disease.
- Special Senses and Speech Problems: Includes visual disorders such as statutory blindness and loss of hearing.
- Digestive Disorders: Includes gastrointestinal hemorrhaging, chronic liver disease, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and short bowel syndrome (SBS).
- Genitourinary Problems: Includes chronic kidney disease and complications resulting from this condition.
- Hematological Disorders: Includes hemolytic anemias such as sickle cell anemia and bone marrow failure disorders.
- Skin Conditions: Includes ichthyosis, bullous diseases, dermatitis, and other chronic infections of the skin or mucous membranes.
- Endocrine Disorders: Hormonal imbalances that lead to complications in various parts of the body.
- Neurological Disorders: Includes cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and Parkinson’s disease.
- Mental Disorders: Includes anxiety, depression, autism, schizophrenia, and intellectual disability.
- Cancer: Includes most types of cancer affecting numerous areas of the body.
- Immune System Disorders: Includes HIV/AIDS, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus.
- Multi-Body System Congenital Disorders: These are congenital disorders (disorders that were present at birth) that affect multiple body systems.
These are the conditions listed in the SSA’s blue book as of 2018. The blue book is updated annually to include new debilitating conditions as the SSA becomes aware of them. The SSA also publishes a children’s blue book, but it is mostly the same as the adult book. The one medical condition that is covered for children under age 18 that is not covered for adults is growth impairment.
What if My Condition Does Not Appear in the SSA Blue Book?
If you have a debilitating condition that does not appear on the SSA’s list of qualifying medical impairments, you are not alone. The majority of applicants do not have a qualifying match initially. The good news is that this does not mean you cannot ultimately become approved for SSDI benefits.
Individuals who do not satisfy the exact requirements for a listed medical impairment can become approved if they convince the SSA that their condition is “medically equivalent” to one of the impairments that appears on the list. This may occur if your condition is similar to one of those listed in the SSA blue book and/or you have multiple conditions that are medically equal in severity.
Even if you do not have a condition that is similar to one listed in the SSA blue book, you may still be able to get approved for benefits. If the condition is “medically determinable” and it reduces your residual functional capacity (RFC) to the point where you can no longer work, you may be eligible for benefits. The key is to follow the steps in the application process in proper order and stay persistent even when you run into seemingly insurmountable roadblocks.
Speak with an Experienced Alabama Social Security Disability Attorney
Applying for Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits is a long and complicated process. In Alabama, only about 30% of applicants are initially approved for benefits. Much of the reason for the high rate of denials has to do with the confusing nature of the process and the difficulty applicants have in navigating its complexities. If you have a debilitating condition and need to get approved for benefits, it is best not to fight this battle alone.
At Jones and Associates, we have extensive experience and in-depth knowledge of the Social Security Disability (SSDI) approval process. We are skilled, compassionate, and dedicated to ensuring that our clients receive the guidance necessary to become approved for the benefits they need and deserve. We provide free consultations, and we take all SSDI cases on a contingency basis, so you only pay attorney fees if we secure benefits for you. For a free, no-obligation case analysis, contact our office today at (334) 699-5599.