How does the Social Security Administration define disabilities?

Mar 13, 2023 | Social Security Disability

We all want to be in the best possible shape for the longest time possible. Life, unfortunately, is full of uncertainties. Even a young and otherwise healthy person can develop a disabling condition that renders them incapable of working and, thus, earning a living.

Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits are designed to provide financial support to qualified individuals. But what does the Social Security Administration (SSA) consider a disabling condition?

Understanding a disability

To qualify for SSD benefits, your condition must meet the Social Security Authority’s definition of a disability. This definition is rather complicated, however. Per the SSA’s evaluation process, multiple factors such as your condition, prognosis and income, all contribute to the SSA’s definition of a disabling condition.

But your word is never enough to prove that your condition is disabling. A certified medical doctor must diagnose you with a recognized condition (which can be physical or mental). And, your condition must be expected to last for at least 12 months or be terminal.

Conditions that qualify for disability benefits

The SSA has a list of conditions that meet the disability requirements. While this list is routinely updated, you may qualify for benefits even when your condition is not on the list. That said, some of the medical conditions that are awarded disability status include:

  • Musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorders – these include amputations, arthritis and chronic back pains
  • Cardiovascular disorders – these include heart failure, chronic hypertension and other cardiovascular disorders
  • Degenerative conditions – these include nervous system breakdowns like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, stroke and brain tumors
  • Cancer
  • Mental disorders

Is your condition disabling?

Disability benefits can be a welcome relief when you are no longer able to work and provide for yourself and your loved ones. And determining whether your condition fits the SSA’s definition of a disabling condition is a crucial step toward receiving the benefits you deserve.