Eligible Disabilities

Neurological Disorders

The Social Security Administration uses the guidelines set forth in the Blue Book to help determine whether a person’s disabilities are severe enough to qualify them for Social Security disability benefits. There are sixteen neurological conditions or groups of conditions that are listed in Blue Book.

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig’s Syndrome)
  • Anterior Poliomyelitis
  • Brain tumors
  • Central nervous system vascular accidents
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Cerebral trauma
  • Epilepsy
  • Lesions of the spinal cord or nerve roots
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Myasthenia Gravis
  • Other degenerative diseases
  • Parkinsonian Syndrome
  • Peripheral Neuropathies
  • Sub-acute combined cord degeneration
  • Syringomyelia

It is important to note that just having a diagnosis that appears on this list doesn’t mean that you automatically qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Each condition has its own set of criteria that must be met in order to be granted benefits under that listing.

The key to a successful claim is supporting evidence and documentation, so you can back up your claim and the disability examiner can confirm that your condition is severe enough to qualify for disability benefits and that your condition meets the medical criteria established for the applicable listing.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a stringent process for disabled workers to follow and very specific criteria that must be met to be approved for monthly disability benefits.

Qualifying for Benefits Based on Reduced Capacity

The SSA is generally more concerned with your abilities, versus your specific diagnosis. To determine what your abilities are, the SSA will assign you a “Residual Functional Capacity (RFC).” Your physical RFC is the heaviest type of work that the SSA feels you are capable of performing and could range from sedentary to heavy. Your mental RFC indicates the level of impairment you have in several different areas – for example, whether you can work in a fast-paced environment, or how long you can pay attention.

Types of RFC

There are two major RFCs used by the SSA when assessing an applicant. There is the physical RFC and the mental RFC.

Physical RFC

The physical assessment asks questions regarding your physical restrictions and exertional limitations. These include your ability to lift, sit, stand, walk, hold, push, and pull. How much weight can you carry? How long are you able to stand before needing to sit down? The assessment also determines your exertional requirement classification. Are you able to complete what SSA considers sedentary, light, medium, heavy, or very heavy work? These questions help DDS and Administrative Law Judges (ALJ) determine if you are disabled under SSA’s rules.

Mental RFC

The mental assessment asks questions regarding mental restrictions and non-exertional limitations. These include your ability to understand, concentrate, and adapt in a work environment, as well as your ability to interact socially. Specific questions regarding these areas will be rated. The assessment rates these limitations as none, mild, moderate, marked or extreme. Generally, mental limitations must be “marked” or “extreme” in order to be considered disabling under Social Security’s rules.

What To Do If Your Neurological Disorder Does Not Meet the SSA’s Listed Requirements

It is fairly common for an individual struggling with a neurological disorder that prohibits them from being able to work, but that condition does not meet all of the specific requirements set forth by the SSA. If you find yourself in this situation, you should consider applying for a Medical Vocational Allowance.

Medical-Vocational Allowance

If your medical condition does not match a listing, but you are still seriously disabled and unable to perform any type of work, you may still qualify for disability benefits under a “medical-vocational allowance”.

A medical-vocational allowance includes a thorough review of your medical records. The SSA will also determine the type of work if any, that you are reasonably able to perform with your disability, which is also known as your “Residual Functional Capacity” (RFC).

If the SSA rules that you are unable to perform any type of job with your medical condition, even though you do not meet a listing in the Blue Book, you can be approved for SSD benefits under a medical-vocational allowance.

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