• Justin S. Raines

What conditions qualify for Social Security disability benefits?

Updated: May 20, 2021


When you apply for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (SSD, SSDI, or DIB) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, you may wonder if your conditions qualify for disability benefits. But qualifying for Social Security disability benefits is less about the exact conditions that you have than how they limit your ability to work. To get benefits, you need to prove that you have a severe physical or mental impairment or combination of impairments that will last at least twelve months or that are expected to result in death.


While the Social Security Administration (SSA) maintains a detailed listing of impairments, you do not need to meet or equal a listing to win your disability case. If you can prove that your physical or mental illness or injury is a medically determinable impairment that substantially limits your ability to perform basic work activities, you may qualify for disability benefits.


Over the years, as new diagnoses have been discovered, the SSA has issued various policy rulings to address relatively new diagnoses like fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome / complex regional pain syndrome.


It certainly helps to know exactly what diagnosis or diagnoses that you have. But when you are unsure, you should list your symptoms and diagnoses when you complete your application for disability benefits, request for reconsideration, request for hearing, or any other part of the disability application and appeal process.


If your providers have been unable to find an exact diagnosis or if you have been unable to afford or obtain treatment, the SSA or ALJ may order one or more consultative examinations (CEs), which you should attend. These one-time examinations and tests are no substitute for regular treatment, but they are better than having no medical evidence at all.


If you have a severe physical or mental illness or injury, you should consult with an attorney experienced in Social Security disability for help and advice proving your case.

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