What Is A Qualifying Disability in The Social Security Disability System?

It is common knowledge that the Social Security disability system is difficult to navigate. If you have become disabled and seek coverage from Social Security, you need to fit various criteria. However, in order to speed up the process, Social Security has a list that they refer to as the blue book of conditions that are considered disabling.

Qualifying Disabilities in the Social Security Blue Book

When someone refers to a qualifying disability, they are referring to conditions that are highlighted in the Social Security blue book. This is a lengthy list of medical conditions that can be considered disabling, and those that meet the criteria can easier collect disability. These qualifying conditions are amended often, but typically include:

  • Muscular-skeletal injuries
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Speech and Sense conditions
  • Respiratory illnesses
  • Neurological disorders
  • Mental illnesses
  • Immune system conditions
  • Certain syndromes
  • Skin issues
  • Digestive tract diseases
  • Cancer
  • Blood disorders

There are a variety of resources out there to explain what conditions are qualifying in the blue book. By contacting a lawyer skilled in SSDI cases, they can help you sort out if you do indeed have a qualifying condition. However, if you are looking to collect disability, but don’t think your condition is covered, it may not be the end of your claim.

My Condition Isn’t Qualifying, What Now?

In truth, having a condition that isn’t in the blue book, isn’t the end of your potential claim. The blue book is more of a way for people that need disability coverage to get it more quickly. Some conditions, like late stage cancer for example, may even be approved within a month after diagnosis without any other proof – which is as close to automatically as you can hope any government agency gets something approved.

If you did not see your disability as qualifying in the blue book, you still have options. Any problem that is severe enough as to be considered disabling will be covered by Social Security disability. If not listed, you will need to prove that your condition prevents you from doing basically full time work.  The actual definition is more complex.

Using our above example, someone with Stage IV cancer may merely have to provide a diagnosis with appropriate testing to qualify for disability under the compassionate allowance doctrine. Alternatively, someone with a qualifying condition will need to provide medical documentation such as medical tests like cat scan results that prove that they meet the requirements for the qualifying condition. However, for someone that does not have a qualifying condition in the blue book, they need to provide a variety of documentation that shows that they cannot do their present job or any other kind of full time work, rendering them disabled. For an employee 50 years or older, the standard is lower and may only require one prove one cannot do any past work provided they are limited to sedentary, or in some cases, light work.

A common example is the case of carpal tunnel. It is not considered a qualifying condition, but it can be disabling. If you were, for example, working in your late 50’s and your carpal tunnel has become so bad that you can no longer work a data entry job you have worked at for 20+ years, this could be considered disabling since you couldn’t use your hands for that job and may have trouble finding other employment. Age, past work, and education are important factors in determining whether you are disabled. In this hypothetical, considering your disability benefits would turn into retirement benefits in just a few years anyway, Social Security may not fight you as much as they would a younger person.

Need Help? Contact Harvey & Carpenter Today

For most people, trying to get disability benefits from Social Security is challenging, especially without a qualifying condition. However, if you are truly disabled, it is something you need to do. If you believe you are disabled and want to give yourself a  much better chance of getting benefits than going alone, contact us today to see what Harvey & Carpenter can do to help you.