What does Social Security Consider to be a Disability?
For many individuals who have a debilitating injury or illness, Social Security Disability benefits can be critical for financial survival. Unfortunately, not all disabled individuals are able to qualify for Social Security benefits. In fact, only about 30% of claimants are approved after filing their initial application. A denial does not necessarily mean that a claimant does not have a condition Social Security considers to be a disability, however. It just means that they need to present their case more clearly at the appeals level to get their claim approved.
Conditions Social Security Automatically Considers to be a Disability
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a listing of medical impairments for adults, commonly known as the “Blue Book”, that will automatically qualify an individual for Social Security Disability (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The listing for children is similar to the adult listing with a few slight differences.
The adult Blue Book lists 14 conditions that can automatically qualify an applicant for benefits. These are:
- Musculoskeletal Disorders
- Special Senses and Speech Conditions (e.g., vision or hearing loss)
- Respiratory Disorders
- Cardiovascular Issues
- Digestive Tract Problems
- Genitourinary Disorders
- Hematological Disorders
- Skin Disorders
- Endocrine Disorders
- Congenital Disorders affecting Multiple Body Systems
- Neurological Disorders
- Mental Disorders
- Immune System Disorders
If your condition matches one of those listed in the Blue Book, getting approved for benefits is not too difficult. The problem is that the SSA has very specific criteria for each condition, and a large percentage of applicants do not match the criteria exactly, even though their condition may be similar to one that is listed.
Having a condition that does not match a Blue Book listing does not mean you cannot get approved for benefits. The application process is certainly more challenging when there is not an exact match, but you can still get approved if you are able to show that your condition is “medically equivalent” to one of those listed.
When Does Social Security Consider a Non-Blue Book Listing to be a Disability?
If your condition does not meet all the requirements of one of the impairments listed in the Blue Book, you may still be able to get approved for benefits if you are able to “equal” one (or more) of the conditions listed. This is done by showing that your condition is medically equivalent in both severity and duration to a listed impairment. This can be done in several ways:
- You have a listed impairment, but it does not meet the SSA’s specific criteria. However, you have other health issues that are related to this impairment that make it medically equal to the SSA’s criteria;
- Your impairment is not listed in the Blue Book, but it is similar or equal in severity to one of the conditions listed; or
- You have multiple impairments, but individually, none of them match a Blue Book listing or are medically equal in severity to a Blue Book listing. However, the combined effect of these impairments makes your condition medically equal to one of those listed in the Blue Book.
Meeting the Technical Requirements for Social Security Disability Benefits
Having a qualifying debilitating condition does not automatically mean you can be approved for Social Security benefits. Before applying, you must also make sure you meet the technical requirements to participate in the program:
- To be eligible for either SSDI or SSI, you must be a U.S. citizen or qualified alien;
- To qualify for SSDI, you must have accumulated the required number of work credits. This requirement varies depending on the age of the worker at the time of the disability and other factors;
- To qualify for SSI benefits, you must fall under certain income and asset requirements; or
- Any disabled person who is blind or over age 65 can qualify for SSI.
Speak with an Experienced Alabama Social Security Disability Attorney
There are many debilitating conditions that Social Security may consider to be a disability. However, qualifying for benefits can be extremely difficult. At The Dansby Law Firm, P.C., we understand the physical, emotional, and financial strain individuals with disabilities and their families go through, and we work tirelessly to help those in this position obtain the benefits they need and deserve.
For a personalized consultation with one of our skilled and experienced Alabama Social Security Disability attorneys, call us today at 334-834-7001 or send us a message through our online contact form.