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Some Common Impairments

Depending on the severity of your medical condition, you may be eligible for permanent benefit payments if you have any of the following common impairments:



Bipolar disorder


Arthritis Diabetes Lupus Epilepsy
RSD Fibromyalgia Asthma Cardiovascular Disease

Listing of Impairments

The Social Security Administration has identified impairments within 14 major body systems that are considered severe enough to prevent someone from doing “gainful activity,” which means work that earns income. Most of these conditions are permanent, and could result in death. The list below is an abridged version and does not contain all information on Impairments. The information below also contains complicated medical terminology. If you are not sure if your medical condition qualifies you for disability benefits, use the form to the right in order to contact us and get a Free evaluation from one of our experienced disability advocates.

  1. Musculoskeletal System

    Disorders of the musculoskeletal system may result from hereditary, congenital, or acquired pathologic processes. Impairments may result from infectious, inflammatory, or degenerative processes, traumatic or developmental events, or neoplastic, vascular, or toxic/metabolic diseases.

  2. Special Senses and Speech

    What are visual disorders? Visual disorders are abnormalities of the eye, the optic nerve, the optic tracts, or the brain that may cause a loss of visual acuity or visual fields. A loss of visual acuity limits your ability to distinguish detail, read, or do fine work. A loss of visual fields limits your ability to perceive visual stimuli in the peripheral extent of vision.

  3. Respiratory System

    The listings in this section describe impairments resulting from respiratory disorders based on symptoms, physical signs, laboratory test abnormalities, and response to a regimen of treatment prescribed by a treating source. Respiratory disorders along with any associated impairment(s) must be established by medical evidence.

  4. Cardiovascular System

    Any disorder that affects the proper functioning of the heart or the circulatory system (that is, arteries, veins, capillaries, and the lymphatic drainage). The disorder can be congenital or acquired.

  5. Digestive System

    Disorders of the digestive system include gastrointestinal hemorrhage, hepatic (liver) dysfunction, inflammatory bowel disease, short bowel syndrome, and malnutrition. They may also lead to complications, such as obstruction, or be accompanied by manifestations in other body systems.

  6. Genitourinary Impairments

    Renal dysfunction due to any chronic renal disease, such as chronic glomerulonephritis, hypertensive renal vascular disease, diabetic nephropathy, chronic obstructive uropathy, and hereditary nephropathies.

  7. Hematological Disorders

    7.01 Category of Impairments

    7.02 Chronic anemia(hematocrit persisting at 30 percent or less due to any cause) With:

    1. Requirement of one or more blood transfusions on an average of at least once every 2 months; or
    2. Evaluation of the resulting impairment under criteria for the affected body system.

    7.05 Sickle cell disease, or one of its variants. With:

    1. Documented painful (thrombotic) crises occurring at least three times during the 5 months prior to adjudication; or
    2. Requiring extended hospitalization (beyond emergency care) at least three times during the 12 months prior to adjudication; or
    3. Chronic, severe anemia with persistence of hematocrit of 26 percent or less; or
    4. Evaluate the resulting impairment under the criteria for the affected body system.

    7.06 Chronic thrombocytopenia

    7.07 Hereditary telangiectasia with hemorrhage requiring transfusion at least three times during the 5 months prior to adjudication.

    7.08 Coagulation defects (hemophilia or a similar disorder) with spontaneous hemorrhage requiring transfusion at least three times during the 5 months prior to adjudication.

    7.09 Polycythemia vera (with erythrocytosis, splenomegaly, and leukocytosis or thrombocytosis). Evaluate the resulting impairment under the criteria for the affected body system.

    7.10 Myelofibrosis (myeloproliferative syndrome). With:

    1. Chronic anemia. Evaluate according to the criteria of 7.02; or
    2. Documented recurrent systemic bacterial infections occurring at least 3 times during the 5 months prior to adjudication; or
    3. Intractable bone pain with radiologic evidence of osteosclerosis.

    7.15 Chronic granulocytopenia

    7.17 Aplastic anemias

  8. Skin Disorders

    Skin disorders that may result from hereditary, congenital, or acquired pathological processes. The kinds of impairments covered by these listings are: Ichthyosis, bullous diseases, chronic infections of the skin or mucous membranes, dermatitis, hidradenitis suppurativa, photosensitivity disorders, and burns.

  9. Endocrine Disorders

    An endocrine disorder is a medical condition that causes a hormonal imbalance. When an endocrine gland functions abnormally, producing either too much of a specific hormone (hyperfunction) or too little (hypofunction), the hormonal imbalance can cause various complications in the body. The major glands of the endocrine system are the pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, adrenal, and pancreas.

  10. Impairments that Affect Multiple Body Systems

    Non-mosaic Down syndrome occurs when you have an extra copy of chromosome 21. At least 98 percent of people with Down syndrome have this form (which includes either trisomy or translocation type chromosomal abnormalities). Virtually all cases of non-mosaic Down syndrome affect the mental, neurological, and skeletal systems, and they are often accompanied by heart disease, impaired vision, hearing problems, and other conditions.

  11. Neurological

    1. Epilepsy. In epilepsy, regardless of etiology, degree of impairment will be determined according to type, frequency, duration, and sequelae of seizures. At least one detailed description of a typical seizure is required. Such description includes the presence or absence of aura, tongue bites, sphincter control, injuries associated with the attack, and postictal phenomena. The reporting physician should indicate the extent to which description of seizures reflects his own observations and the source of ancillary information. Testimony of persons other than the claimant is essential for description of type and frequency of seizures if professional observation is not available.
    2. Brain tumors.  Malignant brain tumors are evaluated under the criteria in 13.13. For benign brain tumors, the severity and duration of the impairment on the basis of symptoms, signs, and laboratory findings is considered (11.05).
    3. In conditions which are episodic in character, such as multiple sclerosis or myasthenia gravis, consideration should be given to frequency and duration of exacerbations, length of remissions, and permanent residuals.
    4. Multiple sclerosis. The major criteria for evaluating impairment caused by multiple sclerosis are discussed in Listing 11.09. Paragraph 1 provides criteria for evaluating disorganization of motor function and gives reference to 11.04.2 (11.04.2 then refers to 11.3). Paragraph 2 provides references to other listings for evaluating visual or mental impairments caused by multiple sclerosis. Paragraph 3 provides criteria for evaluating the impairment of individuals who do not have muscle weakness or other significant disorganization of motor function at rest, but who do develop muscle weakness on activity as a result of fatigue.

      Use of the criteria in 11.09.3 is dependent upon (1) documenting a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, (2) obtaining a description of fatigue considered to be characteristic of multiple sclerosis, and (3) obtaining evidence that the system has actually become fatigued. The evaluation of the magnitude of the impairment must consider the degree of exercise and the severity of the resulting muscle weakness.

      The criteria in 11.09.3 deal with motor abnormalities which occur on activity. If the disorganization of motor function is present at rest, paragraph 1 must be used, taking into account any further increase in muscle weakness resulting from activity.

      Sensory abnormalities may occur, particularly involving central visual acuity. The decrease in visual acuity may occur after brief attempts at activity involving near vision, such as reading. This decrease in visual acuity may not persist when the specific activity is terminated, as with rest, but is predictably reproduced with resumption of the activity. The impairment of central visual acuity in these cases should be evaluated under the criteria in Listing 2.02, taking into account the fact that the decrease in visual acuity will wax and wane.

      Clarification of the evidence regarding central nervous system dysfunction responsible for the symptoms may require supporting technical evidence of functional impairment such as evoked response tests during exercise.

    5. Traumatic brain injury (TBI). The guidelines for evaluating impairments caused by cerebral trauma are contained in 11.18. Listing 11.18 states that cerebral trauma is to be evaluated under 11.02, 11.03, 11.04, and 12.02, as applicable.

      TBI may result in neurological and mental impairments with a wide variety of posttraumatic symptoms and signs. The rate and extent of recovery can be highly variable and the long-term outcome may be difficult to predict in the first few months post-injury. Generally, the neurological impairment (s) will stabilize more rapidly than any mental impairment (s). Sometimes a mental impairment may appear to improve immediately following TBI and then worsen, or, conversely, it may appear much worse initially but improve after a few months. Therefore, the mental findings immediately following TBI may not reflect the actual severity of your mental impairment (s). The actual severity of a mental impairment may not become apparent until 6 months post-injury.

      In some cases, evidence of a profound neurological impairment is sufficient to permit a finding of disability within 3 months post-injury. If a finding of disability within 3 months post-injury is not possible based on any neurological impairment (s), adjudication of the claim is deferred until evidence is obtained of your neurological or mental impairments at least 3 months post-injury. If a finding of disability still is not possible at that time, adjudication of the claim is again deferred until evidence is obtained at least 6 months post-injury. At that time, full evaluation of any neurological and mental impairments are done and the claim is adjudicated.

    6. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

      1. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), sometimes called Lou Gehrig's disease, is a progressive, invariably fatal neurological disease.
      2. Diagnosis of ALS is based on history, neurological findings consistent with the diagnosis of ALS, and electrophysiological and neuroimaging testing to rule out other impairments that may cause similar signs and symptoms. The diagnosis may also be supported by electrophysiological studies (electromyography or nerve conduction studies), but these tests may be negative or only suggestive of the diagnosis. There is no single test that establishes the existence of ALS.
      3. For purposes of 11.10, documentation of the diagnosis must be by generally accepted methods consistent with the prevailing state of medical knowledge and clinical practice. The evidence should include documentation of a clinically appropriate medical history, neurological findings consistent with the diagnosis of ALS, and the results of any electrophysiological and neuroimaging testing.

    11.01 Category of Impairments

    11.02 Epilepsy - convulsive epilepsy, (grand mal or psychomotor), documented by detailed description of a typical seizure pattern, including all associated phenomena; occurring more frequently than once a month, in spite of at least 3 months of prescribed treatment. With:

    1. Daytime episodes (loss of consciousness and convulsive seizures) or
    2. Nocturnal episodes manifesting residuals which interfere significantly with activity during the day.

    11.03 Epilepsy - nonconvulsive epilepsy (petit mal, psychomotor, or focal), documented by detailed description of a typical seizure pattern including all associated phenomena, occurring more frequently than once weekly in spite of at least 3 months of prescribed treatment. With alteration of awareness or loss of consciousness and transient postictal manifestations of unconventional behavior or significant interference with activity during the day.

    11.04 Central nervous system vascular accident. With one of the following more than 3 months post-vascular accident:

    1. Sensory or motor aphasia resulting in ineffective speech or communication; or
    2. Significant and persistent disorganization of motor function in two extremities, resulting in sustained disturbance of gross and dexterous movements, or gait and station (see 11.3).

    11.05 Benign brain tumors Evaluate under 11.02, 11.03, 11.04 or the criteria of the affected body system.

    11.06 Parkinsonian syndrome with the following signs: Significant rigidity, bradykinesia, or tremor in two extremities, which, singly or in combination, result in sustained disturbance of gross and dexterous movements, or gait and station.

    11.07 Cerebral palsy. With:

    1. IQ of 70 or less; or
    2. Abnormal behavior patterns, such as destructiveness or emotional instability; or
    3. Significant interference in communication due to speech, hearing, or visual defect; or
    4. Disorganization of motor function as described in 11.04.2.

    11.08 Spinal cord or nerve root lesions, due to any cause with disorganization of motor function as described in 11.04.2.

    11.09 Multiple sclerosis. With:

    1. Disorganization of motor function as described in 11.04.2; or
    2. Visual or mental impairment as described under the criteria in 2.02, 2.03, 2.04, or 12.02; or
    3. Significant, reproducible fatigue of motor function with substantial muscle weakness on repetitive activity, demonstrated on physical examination, resulting from neurological dysfunction in areas of the central nervous system known to be pathologically involved by the multiple sclerosis process.

    11.10 Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. With:

    Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis established by clinical and laboratory findings, as described in 11.7.

    11.11 Anterior poliomyelitis. With:

    1. Persistent difficulty with swallowing or breathing; or
    2. Unintelligible speech; or
    3. Disorganization of motor function as described in 11.04.2.

    11.12 Myasthenia gravis. With:

    11.13 Muscular dystrophy with disorganization of motor function as described in 11.04.2.

    11.14 Peripheral neuropathies. With disorganization of motor function as described in 11.04.2, in spite of prescribed treatment.

    11.16 Subacute combined cord degeneration (pernicious anemia) with disorganization of motor function as described in 11.04.2, not significantly improved by prescribed treatment.

    11.17 Degenerative disease not listed elsewhere, such as Huntington's Chorea, Friedreich's ataxia, and spino-cerebellar degeneration. With:

    1. Disorganization of motor function as described in 11.04.2; or
    2. Chronic brain syndrome. Evaluate under 12.02.

    11.18 Cerebral trauma.

    Evaluate under the provisions of 11.02, 11.03, 11.04, and 12.02, as applicable.

    11.19 Syringomyelia. With:

    1. Significant bulbar signs; or
    2. Disorganization of motor function as described in 11.04.2.

  12. Mental Disorders

    The evaluation of disability on the basis of mental disorders requires documentation of a medically determinable impairment(s), consideration of the degree of limitation such impairment(s) may impose on the individual's ability to work, and consideration of whether these limitations have lasted or are expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months.

  13. Malignant Neoplastic Diseases

    Malignant neoplasms except certain neoplasms associated with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection.

  14. Immune System Disorders


Depression may be described as feeling sad, blue, unhappy, miserable, or down in the dumps. Most of us feel this way at one time or another for short periods.

True clinical depression is a mood disorder in which feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration interfere with everyday life for weeks or longer.

The exact cause of depression is not known. Many researchers believe it is caused by chemical changes in the brain. This may be due to a problem with your genes, or triggered by certain stressful events. More likely, it's a combination of both.

Some types of depression run in families. But depression can also occur if you have no family history of the illness. Anyone can develop depression, even kids.

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