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  • Mark J. Keller, Esq

Medical Conditions that Can Qualify for Disability Benefits

respiratory disease social security disability

Receiving a diagnosis for a long-term or severe medical condition can be devastating on multiple levels. Not only does it impact health and well-being, but there's also the stress of managing finances if the condition makes working difficult or impossible. The good news is that Social Security offers disability programs designed to help individuals in this position. However, the application process can be complicated, so understanding the basics is critical.

What are SSD and SSI?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD or SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are federal programs that assist people with disabilities. The main differences are:

  • SSD: Based on prior work history. Applicants must have worked long enough and recently enough to earn sufficient work credits.

  • SSI: Provides support based on financial need.

Qualifying Medical Conditions

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a list of medical conditions detailed in its "Blue Book" that may qualify for disability benefits. The conditions that make up this list fall into several broad categories:

  • Musculoskeletal Disorders: These include severe back pain, arthritis, amputations, and other conditions that significantly affect mobility or physical function

  • Cardiovascular System: Heart failure, chronic heart disease, and conditions impacting blood flow, among others

  • Respiratory Disorders: Asthma, cystic fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or other respiratory conditions that impair breathing

  • Digestive System: Liver disease, Crohn's disease, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

  • Neurological Disorders: Epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, cerebral palsy, and conditions causing severe tremors, paralysis, or involuntary movements

  • Mental Disorders: Depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, autism spectrum disorders, and intellectual disabilities

  • Cancer (Malignant Neoplastic Diseases): Various forms of cancer, especially if aggressive or in advanced stages

  • Immune System Disorders: HIV/AIDS, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, severe inflammatory conditions

Important Note: This isn't a complete list. If a condition isn't listed in the Blue Book, applicants may still qualify if they can show that it is equivalent in severity and effect to a listed impairment or prevents sustained work activity.

What Evidence is Needed

The SSA is thorough in its evaluation of disability claims. Applicants should gather the following:

  • Detailed medical records: These should come directly from treating doctors, hospitals, therapists, etc., and include diagnoses, prognoses, test results, treatment plans, and limitations caused by the condition.

  • Statements from healthcare providers: Doctors and other healthcare professionals treating the applicant can provide essential insights into how the condition impacts daily life and the applicant's ability to work.

  • Work History: If applying for SSD, documentation of past employment and earnings will be needed.

  • Other Supporting Documentation: Depending on circumstances, educational records, vocational expert assessments, and statements from friends or family may strengthen a claim.

Navigating the Application Process

Applying for Social Security disability benefits can be a complex and lengthy process. Unfortunately, many initial applications are denied. If this happens, applicants have the right to appeal. An attorney who understands Social Security disability law can be invaluable in guiding individuals through the application and appeals processes, advocating on their behalf, and aiming to increase the chance of a successful outcome.

Contact The Law Office of Mark J. Keller Today

If a medical condition prevents you from working, the team at The Law Office of Mark J. Keller may be able to help you receive the disability benefits you deserve. Our office is dedicated to supporting clients at every step. To learn more, call us at 718-297-1890 or submit a request through our contact form at

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