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Disability Lawyer > Blog > Social Security Disability > When Can Chronic Illness Qualify a Person for SSDI Benefits?

When Can Chronic Illness Qualify a Person for SSDI Benefits?


If you currently live with a chronic illness — as about 60 percent of adults in the United States do, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — you may struggle with certain daily activities, and it may be difficult or even impossible to wake up or get to work on a regular basis. Some Americans — about 40 percent, according to the CDC — have two or more chronic illnesses. The term “chronic illness” usually means a disease that has lasted for more than a year, that limits a person’s daily life in some way, or that requires regular medical attention. Yet it is important to understand that having one or more chronic illnesses does not necessarily mean that you have a disability as it must be defined in order to be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.

When can chronic illnesses qualify a person for SSDI benefits? Our national disability benefits attorneys can provide you with more general information, and we can speak with you today about your specific situation if you have questions or concerns about SSDI eligibility.

What is a Chronic Illness Versus Disability? 

What is a chronic illness, and how can it overlap with or be distinct from a disability? According to MedlinePlus and the National Library of Medicine, a chronic illness is, in general, “a long-term health condition that may not have a cure.” There are a very wide range of common chronic illnesses, such as:

  • Arthritis;
  • Asthma;
  • Cancer;
  • Crohn disease;
  • Dementia;
  • Depression;
  • Diabetes;
  • Endometriosis;
  • Fibromyalgia;
  • Heart disease;
  • High blood pressure;
  • Migraine;
  • Multiple sclerosis; and
  • Parkinson’s disease.

In many cases where a person has one or more chronic illnesses, they have a disability according to the general understanding of the word. However, only in certain cases will chronic illnesses meet the definition of a disability that the Social Security Administration (SSA) relies on to determine whether a person is eligible to receive SSDI benefits.

Chronic Illnesses That Qualify for SSDI Benefits

What is the definition of a disability that the SSA uses? Generally speaking, to be disabled according to the SSA due to a chronic illness, the chronic illness must 1) be expected to last at least 12 months or to result in death (true of most chronic illnesses); and 2) must prevent you from engaging in substantial gainful employment (only true of some chronic illnesses, depending on their severity and how they impact your day-to-day life).

You can look at the Bluebook the SSA uses for making disability determinations — it includes a wide range of impairments that can qualify for SSDI benefits. In addition, you should discuss your specific chronic illness with a lawyer and with your health care team to determine whether it is likely to make you eligible for SSDI benefits. If so, you can work with an attorney to apply for those benefits immediately.

Contact a National Disability Benefits Attorney 

When you need assistance applying for SSDI benefits or determining your eligibility based on your current medical condition, it is essential to seek help from an experienced national SSDI benefits lawyer at the Law Offices of Stephen Barszcz. We have years of experience representing disabled adults across the country in Social Security disability cases and appeals, and we can speak with you today about your case. Contact us for more information.



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