I Have a Disease, Do I Qualify for Social Security Disability?

Proper medication can help offset the negative impacts of disease.

When it comes to applying for Social Security disability benefits, a disease or medical condition only automatically qualifies if the individual’s medical records document the criteria specified by the Social Security Administration (SSA) in its “Listing of Impairments.” This listing, available on the SSA’s website, encompasses various common medical conditions, categorized into 14 groups such as musculoskeletal disorders, neurological disorders, cardiovascular system disorders, respiratory disorders, skin disorders, and immune disorders.

Understanding the Listing of Impairments

For conditions included in the listings, the SSA publishes specific criteria. Meeting these criteria automatically qualifies an individual as medically disabled. However, the criteria are often intricate and detailed, making it challenging to qualify.

For example, meeting the listing for an abnormality of a major joint in any extremity (like osteoarthritis) requires:

  • An impairment-related physical limitation of musculoskeletal functioning lasting, or expected to last, for at least 12 months.
  • Medical documentation indicating the need for a walker, bilateral canes, or bilateral crutches, or a wheeled and seated mobility device involving the use of both hands.
  • Inability to use one upper extremity for work-related activities involving fine and gross movements, with a documented medical need for a one-handed, handheld assistive device requiring the use of the other upper extremity or a wheeled and seated mobility device involving the use of one hand.
  • Inability to use both upper extremities to the extent that neither can be used independently for work-related activities involving fine and gross movements.

While being diagnosed with osteoarthritis of major joints might not suffice to meet the SSA listing, individuals can still be found disabled based on a lesser level of osteoarthritis. Seeking guidance from a disability attorney can help navigate the process of applying for Social Security disability benefits.

Role of a Disability Attorney

A disability attorney plays a crucial role in enhancing the chances of SSDI approval. They can provide clarity on the specific criteria for an individual’s condition, help avoid potential pitfalls leading to claim denial, and secure the maximum back pay eligible for the applicant.

Moreover, disability attorneys usually receive payment only if the claim is approved, with a capped amount set by the SSA. This ensures that clients owe nothing for services if benefits are not secured.

Preparation for Application

Being well-prepared for the application process is vital. Gathering all necessary medical documentation, understanding how the medical condition affects daily life, and providing detailed information about work history and education are essential.


Applying for Social Security disability benefits is a complex journey, with approval rates varying at different stages. Seeking professional advice from Fee-Only financial advisers, accountants, and attorneys specializing in social security can provide tailored strategies for maximizing benefits based on individual circumstances. Regardless of marital status, careful consideration of all factors ensures the possibility of receiving the maximum benefits available.

About This Article

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