Top 10 Categories Of Disabilities For Social Security Disability

I am commonly asked , “What are the most common disabilities that win disability?” Variations of this question include:

  • “What Social Security Disability and SSI Cases Win?”
  • “Which medical conditions are most likely to win disability on appeal?”

In order to answer this question, I went right to the source: the Social Security Administration (SSA).  Social Security releases a lot of data every year to the general public. To answer the question about the most common disabling conditions, I went to the Annual Statistical Report on the Social Security Disability Insurance Program, 2011 (although data is from 2011, it is the latest data as this annual report was released in July 2012).

I stripped the and reconfigured the data from Table 6 in the Annual Statistical Report in order to determine the Top 10 categories of conditions.

Top 10 Categories of Disabilities for Social Security Disability

Here is a chart of my findings:

As you can see from the chart, the most common disabilities in 2011 were:

Mental disorders3,511,04235.7%
Musculoskeletal and connective tissue2,579,74026.3%
Nervous system and sense organs923,3729.4%
Circulatory system758,1947.7%
Endocrine, nutritional, and metabolic diseases316,1143.2%
Respiratory system261,6312.7%

Mental Disorders

Mental impairments that may qualify for SSDI and SSI benefits include, but are not limited to:

  • schizophrenia
  • mental retardation
  • autistic disorders
  • anxiety
  • PTSD
  • depression
  • “mood disorders”, such as bipolar disorder,
  • traumatic brain injury (TBI), and
  • substance abuse disorders.

Musculoskeletal System and Connective Tissue Disorders

The Social Security Administration breaks musculoskeletal disorders down into several categories:

  • Joints. Disorders involving joints, including the knees, hips, ankles, shoulders, elbows, wrists, etc., are judged based upon how they affect the claimant’s ability to walk, push, pull, stand, sit, lift, grip and manipulate objects. Social Security will seek to determine whether the claimant could continue to work with reasonable accommodation.
  • Spine. The spine includes the Cervical Spine (neck), Thoracic Spine (mid-back), and Lumbar Spine (low back). The SSA will determine whether a spinal disorder affects the claimant’s ability to move, perform standard work tasks, sit, stand, or concentrate.
  • Amputations. Two limbs typically need to be amputated to qualify for SSDI or SSI (though a claimant may qualify with one amputated limb in some instances). The claimant will need to show that prosthetic devices could not be used to help him or her work again.
  • Fractures. Fractures can qualify for disability benefits in some instances, but the claimant must be able to show that the fracture is expected to make it impossible for him or her to work for a year or longer.

Connective Tissue disorders include:

  • Sjögren’s Syndrome
  • Marfan syndrome
  • Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
  • Systemic Lupus
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Scleroderma
  • Polymyositis, and
  • Dermatomyositis.

Nervous System and Special Senses

Nervous System

The following nerve disorders, or neurological disorders, may qualify for Social Security disability:

  • epilepsy,
  • central nervous system vascular accidents (stroke or CVA),
  • benign brain tumors, Parkinsonian syndrome, cerebral palsy,
  • spinal cord or nerve root lesions, multiple sclerosis (MS),
  • amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease),
  • anterior poliomyelitis (polio),
  • myasthenia gravis,
  • muscular dystrophy (MD),
  • peripheral neuropathies,
  • degenerative diseases such as Huntington’s Chorea,
  • Friedreich’s ataxia,
  • spino-cerebellar degeneration,
  • subacute combined cord degeneration (pernicious anemia),
  • cerebral trauma and
  • syringomyelia (SM).

Special Senses

Special Senses conditions primarily involve vision and hearing disorders, including:

  • Vision Loss
  • Otolaryngology (Hearing Loss)
  • Meniere’s Disease
  • Loss of Speech
  • Macular Degeneration
  • Retinitis Pigmentosa and
  • Dizziness

Circulatory System Disorders

The circulatory system functions to supply oxygen, nutrients, hormones, and other vital compounds to your heart and throughout the body. The following are the most common circulatory system diseases:

  • Angina
  • Arrhythmia
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)
  • High Blood Pressure (HBP)
  • Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD)


This category may include injuries that were suffered in an accident or a work-place, and do not fit neatly into any other categories listed on this page.

Endocrine, Nutritional and Metabolic Disorders

Endocrine, nutritional and metabolic disorders include

  • Parathyroid Gland Disorders
  • Thyroid Gland Disorders
  • Pituitary Gland Disorders
  • Adrenal Gland Disorders
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Pancreatitis


A neoplasm is a new and abnormal growth of tissue in some part of the body. Social Security has an entire category in its Listing of Impairments for Malignant Neoplastic Diseases, or cancer.

Respiratory System

Respiratory system disorders may include:

  • Chronic Pulmonary Insufficiency
  • Asthma
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Pneumoconiosis
  • Bronchiectasis
  • Mycobacterial, Mycotic, and Other Chronic Lung Infections
  • Cor Pulmonale Secondary to Chronic Pulmonary Vascular Hypertension
  • Sleep Related Breathing Disorders
  • Lung Transplant
  • Sleep Apnea

If you have one of these conditions and are just looking to see whether you qualify for disability benefits with the Social Security Administration, call Pensacola, Florida Attorney Nick A. Ortiz. Mr. Ortiz is a Board Certified Social Security Attorney and he has experience handling conditions in all of the above categories. Call 850-898-9904 for a Free Case Evaluation.

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