How the Social Security Disability List of Impairments Works | Disability Advisor
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Is there a Social Security Disability list of impairments, that is, a list of illnesses and injuries, that Social Security considers disabling?

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Learn about the Social Security Disability List of Impairments that lists illnesses, symptoms and signs that Social Security considers disabling.


Watch the Video: "Is there a Social Security Disability list of impairments, that is, a list of illnesses and injuries, that Social Security considers disabling?"

The Social Security Disability List
of Impairments

Social Security has a list of illnesses and injuries that are considered disabling but only if they are accompanied by certain symptoms, clinical findings, or test results. Having a certain diagnosis is not enough for your claim to be automatically approved; but if you have one of the conditions in the Social Security List of Impairments and you also have the symptoms and signs that are listed, then your condition will be considered disabling, without further investigation. Similarly, if your diagnosis is not listed, but you have a condition with symptoms and findings comparable to one of the listed conditions, your claim will be approved.

An Example of an Illness in the Listings

For rheumatoid arthritis to meet the listings and be automatically considered disabling, it must be accompanied by positive ANA test results and either degeneration of a weight-bearing joint that necessitates the use of a cane or loss of the ability to perform fine manual manipulation.

Qualifying for Disability When Your Illness is Not on the List

If the condition for which you are claiming disability is not one of those in the listings or is not accompanied by the required signs or test results, you could still qualify for benefits. If you do not meet the Listing, your claim will be evaluated to determine whether you can do occupations you have done in the past and, if you are under age fifty, whether you can perform a new occupation. For more information about how the Social Security Disability List of Impairments fits into the disability evaluation as a whole, please see our article “How Does the Social Security Administration Apply Social Security Disability Laws to Determine If I Am Disabled?”

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  1. Alyssa Price says:

    Hi I have OCD depression and anxiety but not a lot of history and I’ve never been able to stay at a job longer than a year because of these issues. I also have to be diagnosed for a foot problem that causes me to be unable to walk real good and not stand for long periods of time but little to no doctor history. Will I still be eligible for ssi disability?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Alyssa,

      Many people are approved for Social Security and SSI disability for multiple conditions, such as you have, even when they do not have much medical history. But it’s not easy! You need an attorney who really knows Social Security law and procedures to present your claim to the Social Security Administration.

      With the proper help from a qualified attorney, you can get disability benefits if you are disabled according Social Security’s rules. I strongly suggest that you call the Disability Advisor toll free at 1-888-393-1010 and talk with one of their attorneys. There’s no obligation for a consultation. And, when you hire one of their attorneys, you pay for their services only if you win your claim and get benefits!

      Best regards,


  2. Tracey says:


    I have fibroid myalgia, high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis in remission and Degenerative changes at
    bilateral radiocarpal joints. Right scapholunate disassociation with
    distal radius extending into the scapholunate space. Apparent
    ankylosis between the left distal radius and lunate and Patient has evidence of chronic wrist joint space narrowing and degenerative changes Will I be approved?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Tracey,

      Apologies for the delayed response. Our website has had a software problem, which is now resolved.

      Whether or not you are approved will depend on how and how much your conditions limit you and whether or not you can perform substantial gainful activity (SGA) in an occupation you have performed in the past and, if you are under age fifty, other occupations you could perform.



  3. Lisa Nippers says:

    Hi my name is Lisa. I was born with cerebral palsy and with scoliosis. I was denied on my first claim so I appealed the decision with an attorney. It took over a year and finally had a hearing. After my hearing I was told by my attorney it would take about 30 to 90 days for a decision. It’s been about 40 days. I called SS today and the said my decision was made. They told me over the phone I was denied and I’ve not receive a letter or notice from my SSD attorney. Is it possible I’ve been denied or perhaps the person I was speaking to made a mistake? I called my attorney and the secretary tells me they cannot tell me that I’ve been denied over the phone. I know I have enough information needed to present my case. My attorney has all this information also. I was 9 months pregnant at the time of my hearing

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Lisa,

      It is highly unusual that you received a hearing decision over the phone. In fact, I have never heard of it happening. You and your attorney should receive letters at the same time. I suggest calling again and ask whether the decision letter has actually been sent or is being prepared. It seems that in some cases it takes a month or more for the letter to be prepared and mailed after the decision has been made.



  4. marian says:

    I have Genarilized Anxiety Disorder and P.T.S.D and Border Line Personality Disorder I have applied for SSD and just filled out a Adult function report. Will I still have to see a SS D.R. My anxiety is so bad that I have panic attacks at the thought of leaving my house and also have anxiety around people I do not know.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Marian,

      You may still be asked to go to consultative examination. Do be sure to attend the exam because if you do not your claim may be denied. Perhaps you could have someone you trust make the trip to and from the doctor’s office with you.



      • marian says:

        Thank you if I do have to go I will have my mom go as she takes me where I need to go any way, I don’t drive.

  5. Lisa says:

    Is bad liver from drinking a deases(sp)? Does it meet the list requirements? Thank you

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Lisa,

      Social Security law prohibits the payment of disability benefits for disability caused by drug addiction or alcoholism or for a condition whose drug addiction and/or alcoholism played a significant role in their disability. That said, I would suggest that the person involved file a claim to get a formal decision. To answer your direct question, whether or not liver disease meets the listings depends on its severity.



  6. Timothy Johnston says:

    Hi I have a long story with severe back problems that have required two surgeries about nine years apart to enable me to walk again each time. I’m 54 and permanently disabled according to SS. My final employer for which I worked over 27 years as a blue collar worker carried supplemental income insurance and I purchased on my own additional ehancement from the 60% of salary to the 66.6% of salary level. The private carrier requires continuing proof of disability that need Physician’s statements. My current PCP and 99% (that is a rough estimate not a statistically reasearched figure) of the practitioners of medicine in our local community hospital / clinic have refused to fill out the required form. The two reasons I’ve encountered so far are ” I’m not a disability doctor ” and ” He does not believe in disability.” and always gives a full release within twelve months from surgery. I’m confused about this in two ways. I understand that doctors do not decide disability in the first place they simply provide medical records tests and diagnosis codes, and treatment options if any. Secondly if our society acknowledges the need for disability insurance would not that necessitate that authorized practitioners understand and acknowledge it as well. I suspect that behind the answers given lies the mere reluctance to engage the necessary paperwork and legal cooperation with an often arduous process of assessment. Any wisdom anyone can offer would be appreciated because there are a host of people with these types of problems and not all seem to be getting the help they need. Many have given to society by working hard many years find they are now being tossed aside or allowed to “fall through the cracks” If this is the care we get for having given generously our efforts the next generation needs to be taught to twidle there thumbs while it all comes crashing down for lack of workers available for hire.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Timothy,

      You are correct that long-term disability insurance companies (and Social Security law) do not expect physicians to decide whether an individual is disabled or not. What is needed is a description of the person’s condition including diagnoses and limitations. Usually this information can be obtained be obtained from a primary care physician who is aware of your history and who performs an in office evaluation to see if you still have the same limitations.

      I have heard of doctors who “do not believe in disability” and won’t complete forms; but based on my experience, they make up a small percentage of the profession. Your medical community is apparently an exception. The only suggestions that I have are either to try to establish yourself as a patient of physician in another town, one who will be willing to follow your condition and assess it annually, or to make an appointment with a physiatrist for physical capacities evaluation, which can be expensive.



  7. Todd says:

    Hi, my name is Todd and I have just received my PI assessment. My injury is to my right ankle. I had a non union fracture which required surgery to repair. The surgery didn’t help and I had another procedure to remove the hardware but that didn’t help either. My injury came on the job as a UPS driver. It has been a 3.5 year ordeal now and it seems as tho things are coming to an end.
    My assessment came back at 5% permanent whole body impairment. I was also given permanent restrictions of limited walking on uneven ground, limited stairs, maximum of 35 pounds lifting if consistent and 50 pounds if only occasionally. I might even have limited standing or walking but not sure. I was told that im basically 100% disabled from my current job and my past work history is pretty much warehouse manual labor. I’ve been at ups for 14 years. I’m curious if you believe that I would qualify for disability benefits? I haven’t worked for 3 years now and don’t really have any job experience in anything that doesn’t go against my restrictions. I’m assuming I’ll be given a settlement in the near future but wanted to ask you about this. I’m 39 years old. Thanks

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Todd,

      With your limited work history, you might be eligible because you might not have transferable skills to work in a lighter job. Whether or not you are approved, I suggest that you contact your state’s department of vocation rehabilitation to get help in identifying jobs you might be able to do or to get training to be able to return to a different kind of work.



  8. robert says:

    i have just started researching disability benefits. im 63 yrs and for the last year and a half i have worked in a warehouse/driver position. i have had scoliosis, rotator cuff and back arthritis for years and is becoming increasingly worse, making work extremely difficult. i have medical histories for these conditions dating back years. do i have a case and what do you recommend ? thanks


    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Robert,

      At age sixty-three, you have to be disabled from occupations you have done in the past. You do not say what kind of work you did before the warehouse work, so I can’t say much about your chances. If you have done medium or heavy work all your life, you might qualify. I suggest you discuss your physical problems with your physician and describe the physical demands of your past occupations to try to get an opinion from your physician regarding whether you can continue to do those types of work. Another alternative would be to call Disability Advisor at 1-888-393-1010 to speak to an attorney about your situation.


  9. Darlene says:

    Hi Kay

    I have worked as a horse trainer. I’m 52 yrs old. I have not worked for over 5 yrs . My support is ending. I would like to get SSDI. I have Fibromyalgia , chronic fatigue, Bone spurs in my wrists and SI joint, Degenerative arthritis in my spin arthritis in my hands and feet. I had cartilage removed from my right pinky. I can not lift more then 10 lbs. I can not sit or sat for more then 10 – 20 min My right hand hurts to write or just plan work with. Then I use my left and it hurts then too.! I’m in alot of pain. I take pain med as most people like me do. Do you think I could get SSDI? I need help

    Thank you Darlene

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Darlene,

      If you have a narrow work history as a horse trainer, given your age, you might be approved for Social Security Disability (SSDI). To be eligible for SSDI, you have to prove that you became disabled while still insured, which at the latest is five years after you stopped work. If you ceased work because of your medical conditions, you should claim your cease work date as your date of disability and provide medical records from about a year before that to present, plus any earlier records of importance.


  10. Vanessa says:

    What if you have Gaucher Disease ? That would mean that it’s been a disability from birth.

  11. Donna says:

    Hi I have already had my hearing and was told that I will receive benefits for 16 months of back pay , do you know how long it will take to receive it? Does it depend on my work history, while I was waiting for my hearing with the ALJ ? I was determined that with my fibromyalgia, Lupus(SLE) and GAD , I am eligable . Ty

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Donna,

      If you applied for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), after you receive the formal medical approval letter, it can take a couple weeks to a month or more for benefits to start. Part of your work earnings may reduce your SSI benefits. Social Security Disability will be paid after the SSI has been processed and can take another month to three months for all pament to be issued if you are eligible for both. If you are eligible only for Social Security, the time frame for it could be somewhat shorter. If you worked while your claim was pending and the judge had the information about the work, it should not affect processing time for your Social Security.


  12. Emily says:

    I am 35 and have been struggling with paranoid schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder the past 5 years. I received SSDI on my first attempt 3 years ago without any kind of interview with them (I guess my own written account and reports from my psychiatrist/psychologist were sufficient?). My review should be coming up soon. Since my approval, I have moved to another state. My fear is that since I have not been established very long with my new doctors, my review will be denied because of lack of an “established history.” My psychologist assured me today that she didn’t foresee that as being an issue, especially if she was consulted before her retirement next month, but I’m still very worried about it. I would love to re-enter the job force and forget the past few very tough years, but the symptoms are terrible right now and I just can’t do anything productive. I cannot lose my benefits or I’ll be homeless within the next few months. I know you cannot predict what Social Security will do with my case, but do you have any insight on how my limited medical interaction with my new physicians/psychologist will impact my likelihood of being reapproved? Thank you!

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Emily,

      Before your current psychologist retires authorize and be sure that she transfers her records for you to your new mental health professional together with a written authorization from her to the new psychologist to re-release the records to the Social Security Administration when requested. She could also make her last chart note an extensive narrative summary of your condition and current limitations and the rationale for her opinion. It would be good if she also gave you a copy of that letter. When your claim is reviewed, list all the providers you’ve seen since you were approved including those in your former state and the period of time and frequency you saw each. If older records are required, they will be requested.


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