a person on a wheelchair being pushed by a caretaker on a road

There are certain types of injuries and impairments that qualify for either Social Security disability benefits (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The qualifying conditions include physical and mental impairments, and they appear in the listings released by the Social Security Administration (SSA) in what’s known as the blue book.

Injuries and Conditions Included in the Blue Book Listings

As of 2020, the SSA’s blue book lists the following qualifying medical conditions and injuries:

  • Neurological disorders including cerebral palsy, epilepsy, MS, and Parkinson’s disease
  • Mental disorders including anxiety, depression, intellectual disabilities, and autism
  • Musculoskeletal issues including back injuries
  • Skin disorders like dermatitis
  • Issues with speech and senses including hearing and vision loss
  • Cardiovascular conditions including coronary artery disease and heart failure
  • Respiratory illnesses including asthma and COPD
  • Immune system disorders including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and HIV/AIDS
  • Digestive tract issues including IBD and liver disease
  • Kidney disease or genitourinary issues
  • Hematological disorders like bone marrow failure and hemolytic anemias
  • Syndromes such as Marfan Syndrome and Sjogren’s Syndrome
  • Cancer

In some cases, individuals with more common conditions may also be able to receive disability benefits, even if they aren’t listed in the blue book.

Steps for Getting Disability for Conditions Listed in the Blue Book

If the disability appears in the SSA blue book listings, individuals with these injuries or conditions will need to get an official diagnosis from a qualified doctor. Apart from certain serious conditions such as ALS, cancers, and an organ transplant, additional steps will be required. Oftentimes, following a diagnosis, individuals will need to determine if the medical condition meets the listing’s criteria for the particular condition.

Applicants can then either ask a doctor to perform the required laboratory or clinical tests that the listing requires, or have the SSA cover a consultative exam, though the latter may prolong the claims process. In most cases, it’s best to obtain test results prior to applying for benefits.

Exceptions to Blue Book Listings

An applicant doesn’t necessarily need to have a condition that is listed in the blue book to qualify for benefits. If the condition is severe enough to prevent an individual from working full-time and it’s sufficiently documented, the SSA may choose to approve an individual for SSD or SSI benefits.

When applying, it’s important to make sure that all documentation is gathered including records that detail the diagnosis, test results, specific limitations, and plans for treatment.