The Social Security Administration’s Impairment Listing Manual and Other Types of Qualifying Illnesses

In June of 2016, about 60 million U.S. residents (retired workers, aged widows, dependents, young survivors and disabled workers) collected Social Security retirement/survivors benefits, dependent’s benefits or disability benefits. Social Security, which provides essential financial support to millions of citizens in the U.S., especially the retired and disabled workers, is one of the most effective and successful federal programs in the U.S. While close to half of all beneficiaries rely on SS benefits for the majority of their income, about five percent has Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) as the source of nearly all of their income.

Since this Social Security Act was signed on August 14, 1935, millions of employees in Social Security covered jobs, who have sustained unexpected permanent disabilities that have rendered them unable to continue working, have found the much needed financial support from SSDI.

The SS Administration determines the severity of a disability based on a person’s inability to work. The type of disability that the SSA considers to be eligible for benefits payments, however, include only total disability, since under the program, it is assumed that those who sustain and suffer partial disability or temporary disability will have other sources of financial assistance, such as the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Program or their personal health insurance.

To help prospected applicants determine immediately if their disability qualifies them to receive benefits payments, the SSA has prepared an impairment listing manual, otherwise known as the “blue book,” wherein different types of physical and mental impairments are listed. Any of the impairments included in the list will automatically qualify SS insured members to receive payment of benefits from the SSDI program (SS insured members refer to those employed in SS covered jobs, have earned the required number of credits through the monthly payment of SS taxes; this tax is indicated as Federal Insurance Contributions Act or FICA in employees’ payslips).

According to an Indiana Social Security Disability attorney, qualifying disabilities for SSDI or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) include:

  • Musculoskeletal problems, like back injuries;
  • Cardiovascular conditions, like coronary artery disease or heart failure;
  • Senses and speech issues, like loss of vision and hearing;
  • Respiratory illnesses, like asthma or COPD;
  • Neurological disorders, like Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy;
  • Mental disorders, like retardation, anxiety, schizophrenia, autism, or depression;
  • Immune system disorders, like HIV/AIDS, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis;
  • Various syndromes, like Sjogren’s Syndrome and Marfan Syndrome;
  • Skin disorders, like dermatitis;
  • Digestive tract problems, like liver disease or IBD;
  • Kidney disease and genitourinary problems, and cancer; and,
  • Hematological disorders, like disorders of bone marrow failure and hemolytic anemias

There are illnesses, however, which are not included in SSA’s listing but still qualify under the SSDI program. Examples of these illnesses are rheumatoid arthritis and migraine headaches that are severe enough so that these make it impossible for an individual to have a full-time job. These types of medical condition, which are medically equivalent to those in SSA’s list, are called “equaling a disability listing.”


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