Is My Condition Disabling Enough?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a federal program that provides financial benefits to individuals who qualify as “disabled.” These benefits can provide weekly or biweekly payments to compensate those with disorders that prevent them from obtaining work. Qualifying for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits can make a huge difference in your financial stability and quality of life. Unfortunately, not all conditions are “disabling enough” to be eligible. Here’s a quick guide on when medical conditions qualify for benefits.

Check the Social Security Blue Book

The SSA relies upon the Social Security Blue Book to determine whether a condition qualifies as a benefits-qualifying disability. The Blue Book lists conditions and the medical criteria required to evaluate different impairments. If a disorder is in the Blue Book, it is in most cases automatically severe enough to qualify for Social Security benefits. If the condition is not on the list, it will have to meet other criteria. The Blue Book includes hundreds of possible disabilities for adults and children, including disabilities relating to:

  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular system
  • Digestive system
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Hematological disorders
  • Immune system disorders
  • Mental disorders
  • Musculoskeletal system
  • Neurological disorders
  • Respiratory disorders
  • Skin disorders
  • Special senses and speech

Check the Blue Book to see if it lists your specific condition, disorder, or disability. Keep in mind that the Blue Book is a long and complex document. It’s not always easy to match your condition to one in the Blue Book, but this doesn’t necessarily mean you aren’t disabled enough to qualify. Talk to your doctor if you require assistance with the SS Blue Book. A doctor or attorney can walk you through the Blue Book and help you gather evidence to strengthen your application.

Determine the Extent of Disability

If the Blue Book does have your diagnosis, you must then determine if your condition is severe enough to make you eligible for benefits. The SSA asks five main questions to make this determination about an applicant’s disability. The first is whether you are working in the year you apply, and if your income averages more than $1,180 per month. If you meet both of these conditions your situation is generally not disabling enough for benefits, since you are still able to earn a sizable income.

The second question is, “Is your condition ‘severe’?” The SSA defines “severe” as a condition that interferes with basic work activities. You might need written testimony from your doctor or employer to prove the severity of your injuries. Next, the SSA will look at whether or not the Blue Book lists your medical condition. If it’s not on the list, the SSA will then have to decide if your condition has equal severity to one on the list. The fourth question asks if you can complete the work you did previously. If the answer is yes, the SSA will almost always deny your claim.

The last question is, “Can you do any other type of work?” In some cases, a medical condition prevents you from returning to your previous job, but you can still work in another (typically lesser) capacity. If you can adjust to another type of job with your medical condition, you might not qualify for SS benefits. There is a chance you could still receive partial benefits if you can only return to a position that pays less than what you were making prior to the injury or disorder.

Talk to a Doctor or Lawyer About Your SSD Application

Never assume your condition is not disabling enough to qualify for benefits. Always find out for sure by submitting an application, talking to your doctor, or working with a Social Security Disability lawyer for assistance. If you’re struggling to make ends meet because of a physical or psychological condition, you could be eligible for Social Security benefits. Talk to someone with knowledge of the subject before giving up on your application for SSD.