Many people go through life without ever considering what will happen if they become disabled. Unfortunately, physical and/or mental health conditions can affect any of us. They may even leave us unable to work.
In this situation, you may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA). These benefits are available if you cannot work because of your disability. Some of the most common disabilities that qualify people for disability benefits include musculoskeletal conditions, heart problems, and mental health conditions.
Bross & Frankel works with people with disabilities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania to help them get the benefits that they deserve. Whether you have a common or rare disability, we will fight for your right to benefits. Reach out today to schedule a free claim review with a New Jersey Social Security disability attorney.
What Does the SSA Consider a Disability?
For the purposes of Social Security disability, you are considered disabled if you have a physical or mental impairment (or impairments) that has lasted or is expected to last for a period of at least 12 months or is expected to result in death. In addition, you must not be able to work due to your disability.
Specifically, you will be considered unable to work if you can’t participate in what the SSA refers to as substantial gainful activity (SGA). Essentially, a person who is earning more than a set monthly amount is engaging in SGA and therefore is not disabled per Social Security Rules. The exact amount depends on the type of disability:
- Substantial Gainful Activity threshold for statutorily blind individuals: $2,590 for 2024
- Substantial Gainful Activity threshold for non-blind individuals: $1,550 for 2024
If you are earning over the limit for SGA, then you will not be entitled to benefits.
The SSA will also look at whether you can do any work that you have done in the past. If you cannot do that work because of a disability, the SSA will look at whether you can do any other type of job, taking into account your age, medical condition, education, work experience, and any transferable skills that you may have. If you can do other work, then you won’t be considered disabled for SSA purposes.
If you do meet these requirements, then you will likely receive Social Security disability benefits. This may include Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), depending on your specific situation.
Top Ten Most Common Disabilities
The Social Security Administration maintains what is known as the “listing of impairments” (or blue book) that describes, for each major body system, conditions that are considered severe enough to prevent a person from engaging in substantial gainful activity. If your condition meets or exceeds a listing in the blue book, then you may qualify for disability benefits.
As part of its reporting requirements, the SSA publishes an Annual Report on the Social Security Disability Insurance Program. Among other things, this report details which impairments most frequently lead to disability benefits. According to the SSA’s 2022 report, the most common disabilities were as follows:
- Musculoskeletal system and connective tissue: This broad category of disability accounts for 32.1% of all people receiving Social Security disability benefits. This includes a wide range of disorders affecting the bones, ligaments, cartilage, and other connective tissues. Examples include conditions like fibromyalgia, scoliosis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and degenerative disc disease.
- Neoplasms: A neoplasm is an abnormal growth that forms a tumor or lump in the body. It can be cancerous, pre-cancerous, or benign. 12.2% of all Social Security disability beneficiaries in 2022 had a neoplasm, such as a lipoma, a hemangioma, a fibroma, or an adenoma.
- Circulatory system: 10% of all Americans who receive Social Security disability have a condition related to their circulatory or cardiovascular system. This includes conditions such as heart attack, heart failure, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, arrhythmia, dysrhythmia, and atherosclerosis.
- Nervous system and sense organs: 9.7% of all people on SSDI and SSI have an impairment related to a part of the nervous system, such as the brain, spinal cord, sensory organs, or nerves. This category covers conditions such as spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, and polio.
- Respiratory system – COPD, Emphysema, : 4.5%
- Depressive, bipolar, and related disorders: also known as mood disorders, this category accounts for 4.2% of all people receiving Social Security disability benefits. It can include depression, bipolar disorder, cyclothymic disorder, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
- Intellectual disorders: an intellectual disability includes any limitation in learning, reasoning, problem-solving, or adaptive behavior. 3.6% of all Social Security disability recipients have disabilities in this category, which includes conditions like Down Syndrome, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, Fragile X Syndrome, and Prader-Willi Syndrome.
- Genitourinary system: disabilities related to the genital (reproductive) and urinary systems. They account for 3.5% of all people receiving Social Security disability benefits. It can include things like chronic kidney disease, kidney transplant, and nephrotic syndrome.
- Injuries: physical injuries – such as those sustained in a car accident – can cause disability. 3.4% of people receiving SSDI and/or SSI benefits have a disability related to an injury
- Other mental disorders: 2.5% of people on Social Security disability have a mental health condition that isn’t specifically listed in the blue book. This could include a range of issues, including anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Importantly, just because your disability doesn’t fall into the top ten most common disabilities does not mean that you are not eligible for benefits. A New Jersey disability benefits lawyer can help you determine if you may be entitled to benefits.
Considering Applying for Social Security Disability? Give Us a Call.
If you have been diagnosed with a physical or mental health impairment, you may be entitled to Social Security disability benefits. You may qualify based on a whole range of disabilities – not just the ones that made the SSA’s “top ten” list of most common disabilities. Our law firm can help.
At Bross & Frankel, we are fierce advocates for people with disabilities. We represent individuals in New Jersey and Pennsylvania who have been diagnosed with conditions that leave them unable to work. If you need help filing for benefits or appealing a denial, call our law offices at (866) 858-0571 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free claim review with a New Jersey SSDI attorney.
Rich Frankel is the managing partner of Bross & Frankel. He is a member of the New Jersey and Pennsylvania bars. He has focused exclusively on disability and social security benefits since 2005.
Mr. Frankel joined what is now Bross & Frankel after having watched his father struggle with disability, fighting a lengthy illness. Mr. Frankel founded the firm’s veteran’s law practice and substantially grew the social security disability practice, focusing Bross & Frankel’s ability to fight for all of the disability benefits available to his clients.
Mr. Frankel additionally fights for clients in court, obtaining frequent victories in Social Security appeals and against insurance companies in Federal court.