What Medical Conditions Qualify for Disability?

If you’re not sure whether your illness or condition qualifies for disability benefits, it’s helpful to know which ones the Social Security Administration approves most often. Maybe you’ll see your condition on this list and feel more at ease about applying for benefits. Chances are good, in fact, that you may see more than one condition you currently have shown below. Why? Because the SSA reports 62% of people already receiving SSD benefits have two or more disabling conditions.

Here are the most common health issues on approved SSDI and SSI claims.

What Common Types of Disabilities Qualify for SSDI?

Most-Approved Category #1: Muscle Pain, Back Injuries, Surgery Recovery & Arthritis-Related Conditions

Back pain, arthritis and recovering from surgery make up nearly 1 in 3 approved social security disability benefits claims (30%). These issues all fall under the same grouping umbrella, which the SSA calls “musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorders.”

When it comes to problems like these, think about how chronic pain makes it impossible for some people to work. Common reasons for chronic pain include:

  • Ruptured or herniated discs
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Joint inflammation as a result from arthritis , osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
  • Lengthy recovery time after undergoing either knee or hip replacement surgery

Other frequently approved conditions listed in this category include:

In fact, one reason this is the #1 approved category is that many of these health conditions come from working too much. (Especially back pain as well as carpal tunnel syndrome!) If you suffer from one of these health issues, you need to stop working long enough to let your body heal properly. If this describes your own situation, you’re right to apply for and collect SSD benefits while you get better.

Most-Approved Category #2: Mental Health Impairments & Mood Disorders

Mood disorders and other mental health issues account for nearly 1 in 4 approved claims. In fact, mental health issues are the second most-common group of approved conditions for SSD benefits.

This grouping includes serious psychiatric illnesses and disorders, such as:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Developmental or intellectual delays
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Dementia (other than Alzheimer’s)

But it also includes more common mental illnesses, such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

In addition, anyone with a traumatic brain injury or tumor will likely get approved for disability benefits under the mental disorders category.

Most-Approved Category #3: Chronic Illnesses, Severe Infections & Progressive Diseases

Chronic illnesses, infections and progressive diseases account for nearly 15% of approved claims. This category is less specific than the first two, but typically includes infections diseases that affect people’s organs or limbs. Some frequently approved examples include:

  • Cancer (all types)
  • HIV
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)
  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Hepatitis B & C
  • Peripheral neuropathy

Most-Approved Category #4: Central Nervous System & Sensory Disorders

Nervous system and sensory disorders account for nearly 1 in 10 approved claims. This category includes health issues that affect people’s motor skills, speech, vision or mobility, such as:

  • Deafness/extensive hearing loss
  • Legal or total blindness
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Epilepsy
  • Meningitis

Most-Approved Category #5: Heart Disease & Related Vascular Conditions or Circulatory Problems

Heart disease and other heart-related problems account for just over 7% of approved claims. This category includes a range of heart-related conditions and injuries, such as:

  • Chronic heart failure
  • Strokes
  • Aneurysms
  • Coronary artery disease (also known as atherosclerosis)
  • Lymphedema
  • Heart transplant patients
  • Other conditions that cause poor circulation or blood clots (i.e., deep-vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism)

Many health problems listed in this category require either lengthy recovery time or surgery to fix. However, if you don’t see your health condition listed, that doesn’t mean you won’t qualify for benefits. Your phone should ring soon once we’ve matched you with the right lawyer in your area to help with your case!

All Qualifying Disability Types for SSDI Eligibility

Though the above are the most common types of disabilities to qualify for SSDI, there are plenty of other debilitating disabilities that will make you eligible for SSDI.

  • Musculoskeletal Disorders
  • Special Senses and Speech
  • Respiratory Disorders
  • Cardiovascular System
  • Digestive Disorders
  • Genitourinary Disorders
  • Hematological Disorders
  • Skin Disorders
  • Endocrine Disorders
  • Congenital Disorders that Affect Multiple Body Systems
  • Neurological Disorders
  • Mental Disorders
  • Cancer (Malignant Neoplastic Diseases)
  • Immune System Disorders

Each of these includes several sub-categories of illnesses, breaking each type of condition out into greater detail.

What If My Disability Isn’t on the SSA List?

If your disability isn’t on the SSA approved disabilities list, don’t panic! Disabilities are as diverse as the human experience, and it would be impossible for the SSA to list all medical conditions that could present as a disability.

If your disability is not listed, you instead will need to prove that you meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of disabled. To do so, your disability needs to meet the following requirements:

  1. Be expected to result in death.
  2. Last or be expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months.
  3. Prevent you from participating in Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA).

If you meet all of the above requirements, you may still be approved for disability support even if your condition isn’t on the approved list of disabilities.

Compassionate Allowances: Do Any Conditions Automatically Qualify?

Whether or not you’re approved for disability, the process can be long and arduous, and it’s unlikely that you’ll be approved with your first application. Between appeals, hearings, and the long process of creating documentation, it can take months to years to be approved for–and start receiving–disability benefits.

However, if your disability is sufficiently severe, you may qualify for a Compassionate Allowance. The Compassionate Allowances list is a list of disabilities that cllearly meet the definition of Social Security’s standard of disability and typically are rare, severely debilitating, and often terminal.

There were 248 disabilities on the Compassionate Allowances list in 2023, though the SSA is constantly adding more.

Let a Disability Lawyer Help With Your Case

Understanding which medical conditions qualify for social security disability benefits is crucial for those considering applying. While the SSA commonly approves conditions like musculoskeletal disorders and mental health impairments, it’s important to note that not all disabilities are listed, and that you may need to provide evidence of how your disability impairs your quality of life.

Seeking legal assistance from a disability lawyer can greatly aid in navigating this complex process. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a disability lawyer for help with your case and improve your chances of securing the disability benefits you deserve.

Laura Schaefer

Laura Schaefer is the author ofThe Teashop Girls,The Secret Ingredient, andLittler Women: A Modern Retelling. She is also an active co-author or ghostwriter of several nonfiction books on personal and business development. Laura currently lives in Windermere, Florida with her husband and daughter and works with clients all over the world. Visit her online at lauraschaeferwriter.com and linkedin.com.