Disability Info


Here you will find helpful information if you are considering filing or are in the process of filing for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).   We will try to post any new developments in the SSDI policy.

Social Security Disability
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NEWTINY.GIF (1058 bytes)   

Social Security has recently raised the amount of earnings a person can make and still recieve their full disability payments.   The amount was increased from $700.00 per month to $740.00 per month.  This becomes effective on Jan 1, 2001


This page describes the impairments listed for the Musculoskeletal System and Immune System.   


A. Loss of Function may be due to amputation or deformity. Pain may be an important factor in causing functional loss, but it must be associated with relevant abnormal signs or laboratory findings. Evaluations of musculoskeletal impairments should be supported where applicable by detailed descriptions of the joints, including ranges of motion, condition of the musculature, sensory or reflex changes, circulatory deficits, and X-ray abnormalities.

B. Disorders of the Spine, associated with vertebrogenic disorders as in 1.05C, result in impairment because of distortion of the bony and ligamentous architecture of the spine or impingement of a herniated nucleus pulposus or bulging annulus of a nerve root. Impairment caused by such abnormalities usually improves with time or responds to treatment. Appropriate abnormal physical findings must be shown to persist on repeated examinations despite therapy for a reasonable presumption to be made that severe impairment will last for a continuous period of 12 months. This may occur in cases with unsuccessful prior surgical treatment.

Evaluation of the impairment caused by disorders of the spine requires that a clinical diagnosis of the entity to be evaluated first must be established on the basis of adequate history, physical examination, and roentgenograms. The specific findings stated in 1.05C represent the level required for that impairment; these findings, by themselves are not intended to represent the basis for establishing the clinical diagnosis. Furthermore, while neurological examination findings are required, they are not to be interpreted as a basis for evaluating the magnitude of any neurological impairment. Neurological impairments are to be evaluated under 11.00-11.19.

The history must include a detailed description of the character, location, and radiation of pain; mechanical factors which incite and relieve pain; prescribed treatment, including type, dose, and frequency of analgesic; and typical daily activities. Care must be taken to ascertain that the reported examination findings are consistent with the individual's daily activities.

There must be a detailed description of the orthopedic and neurologic examination findings. The findings should include a description of gait, limitation of movement of the spine given quantitatively in degrees from the vertical position, motor and sensory abnormalities, muscle spasm, and deep tendon reflexes. Observations of the individual during the examination should be reported; e.g., how he or she gets on and off the examining table. Inability to walk on heels or toes, to squat, or to arise from a squatting position, where appropriate, may be considered evidence of significant motor loss. However, a report of atrophy is not acceptable as evidence of significant motor loss without circumferential measurements of both thighs and lower legs(or upper or lower arms) at a stated point above and below the knee or elbow given in inches or centimeters. A specific description of atrophy of hand muscles is acceptable without measurements of atrophy, but should include measurements of grip strength.

These physical examination findings must be determined on the basis of objective observations during the examination and not simply a report of the individual's allegation, e.g., he says his leg is weak, numb, etc. Alternative testing methods should be used to verify the objectivity of the abnormal findings, e.g., a seated straight-leg raising test. Since abnormal findings may be intermittent, their continuous presence over a period of time must be established by a record of ongoing treatment. Neurological abnormalities may not completely subside after surgical or nonsurgical treatment, or with the passage of time. Residual neurological abnormalities, which persist after it has been determined clinically or by direct surgical or other observation that the ongoing or progressive condition is no longer present, cannot be considered to satisfy the required findings in 1.05C.

Where surgical procedures have been performed, documentation should include a copy of the operative note and available pathology reports.

Electrodiagnostic procedures and myelography may be useful in establishing the clinical diagnosis, but do not constitute alternative criteria to the requirements in section 1.05C.

C. After Maximum Benefit From Surgical Therapy has been achieved in situations involving fractures of an upper extremity (1.12), or soft tissue injuries of a lower or upper extremity(1.13), i.e., there have been no significant changes in physical findings or X-ray findings for any 6-month period after the last definitive surgical procedure, evaluation should be made on the basis of demonstrable residuals.

D. Major Joints as used herein refer to hip, knee, ankle, shoulder, elbow, or wrist and hand. (Wrist and hand are considered together as one major joint.)

E. The Measurements of Joint Motion are based on the techniques described in the "Joint Motion Method of Measuring and Recording," published by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons in 1965, or the "Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment-The Extremities and Back" (Chapter I); American Medical Association, 1971.


1.02 Active Rheumatoid Arthritis and Other Inflammatory Arthritis. With both A and B:
A. History of persistent joint pain, swelling and tenderness involving multiple major joints (see 1.00D) AND with signs of joint inflammation (swelling and tenderness) on current physical examination despite prescribed therapy for at least 3 months, resulting in significant restriction of function of the affected joints, and clinical activity expected to last at least 12 months; and

B. Corroboration of diagnosis at some point in time by either:
1. Positive serologic test for rheumatoid factor; or
2. Antinuclear antibodies; or
3. Elevated sedimentation rate; or
4. Characteristic histologic changes in biopsy of synovial membrane or subcutaneous nodule (obtained independent of Social Security disability evaluation).

1.03 Arthritis of a Major Weight-Bearing Joint (due to any cause): With history of persistent joint pain and stiffness with signs of marked limitation of motion or abnormal motion of the affected joint on current physical examination. With:
A. Gross anatomical deformity of hip or knee (e.g., subluxation, contracture, bony or fibrous ankylosis, instability) supported by x-ray evidence of either significant joint space narrowing or significant bony destruction and markedly limiting ability to walk and stand; or
B. Reconstructive surgery or surgical arthrodesis of a major weight-bearing joint and return to full weight-bearing status did not occur, or is not expected to occur, within 12 months of onset.

1.04 Arthritis of One Major Joint in Each of the Upper Extremities (due to any cause): With history of persistent joint pain and stiffness, signs of marked limitation of motion of the affected joints on current physical examination, and X-ray evidence of either significant joint space narrowing or significant bony destruction. With;
A. Abduction and forward flexion (elevation) of both arms at the shoulders, including scapular motion, restricted to less than 90 degrees; or
B. Gross anatomical deformity (e.g., subluxation, contracture, bony or fibrous ankylosis, instability, ulnar deviation) and enlargement or effusion of the affected joints.

1.05 Disorders of the Spine:
A. Arthritis manifested by ankylosis or fixation of the cervical or dorsolumbar spine at 30 degrees or more of flexion measured from the neutral position, with X-ray evidence or;
1. Calcification of the anterior and lateral ligaments; or
2. Bilateral ankylosis of the sacroiliac joints with abnormal apophyseal articulations; or
B.Osteoporosis, generalized (established by X-ray) manifested by pain and limitation of back motion and paravertebral muscle spasm with X-ray evidence of either:
1. Compression fracture of a vertebral body with loss of at least 50 percent of the estimated height of the vertebral body prior to the compression fracture, with no intervening direct traumatic episode; or
2. Multiple fractures of vertebrae with no intervening direct traumatic episode; or
C. Other vertebrogenic disorders (e.g., herniated nucleus pulposus, spinal stenosis) with the following persisting for at least 3 months despite prescribed therapy and expected to last 12 months. with both 1 and 2:
1. Pain, muscle spasm, and significant limitation of motion in the spine; and
2. Appropriate radicular distribution of significant motor loss with muscle weakness and sensory and reflex loss.

1.08 Osteomyelitis or Septic Arthritis (established by X-ray);
A. Located in the pelvis, vertebra, femur, tibia, or a major joint of an upper or lower extremity, with persistent activity or occurrence of at least two episodes of acute activity within a 5-month period prior to adjudication, manifested by local inflammatory, and systemic signs and laboratory findings (e.g., heat, redness, swelling, leucocytosis, or increased sedimentation rate) and expected to last at least 12 months despite prescribed therapy; or
B. Multiple localizations and systemic manifestations as in 1.08 A above.

1.09 Amputation or Anatomical Deformity of (i.e., loss of major function due to degenerative changes associated with vascular or neurological deficits, traumatic loss of muscle mass or tendons and X-ray evidence of bony ankylosis at an unfavorable angle, joint subluxation or instability):
A. Both hands; or
B. Both feet; or
C. One hand and one foot.

1.10 Amputation of One Lower Extremity (at or above the tarsal region):
A. Hemipelvectomy or hip disarticulation; or
B. Amputation at or above the tarsal region due to peripheral vascular disease or diabetes mellitus; or
C. Inability to use a prosthesis effectively, without obligatory assistive devices, due to one of the following;
1. Vascular disease; or
2. Neurological complications (e.g., loss of position sense); or
3. Stump to short or stump complications persistent, or are expected to persist, for at least 12 months from onset; or
4. Disorder of contralateral lower extremity which markedly limits ability to walk and stand.

1.11 Fracture of the Femur, Tibia, Tarsal Bone, or Pelvis: With solid union not evident on X-ray and not clinically solid, when such determination is feasible, and return to full weight-bearing status did not occur or is not expected to occur within 12 months of onset.

1.12 Fractures of an Upper Extremity: With nonunion of a fracture of the shaft of the humerus, radius, or ulna under continuing surgical management directed toward restoration of functional use of the extremity and such function was not restored or expected to be restored within 12 months after onset.

1.13 Soft Tissue injuries of an Upper or Lower Extremity: Requiring a series of staged surgical procedures within 12 months after onset for salvage and/or restoration of major function of the extremity, and such major function was not restored or expected to be restored within 12 months after onset.

Immune System Disorders  (Lupus, MCTD, etc.)


A. Listed disorders include impairments involving deficiency of one or more components of the immune system (i.e., antibody-producing B cells; a number of different types of cells associated with cell-mediated immunity including T-lymphocytes, macrophages and monocytes; and components of the complement system).

B. Dysregulation of the immune system may result in the development of a connective tissue disorder. Connective tissue disorders include several chronic multisystem disorders that differ in their clinical manifestation, course, and outcome. They generally evolve and persist for months or years, may result in loss of functional abilities, and may require long-term, repeated evaluation and management.

The documentation needed to establish the existence of a connective tissue disorder is medical history, physical examination, selected laboratory studies, medically acceptable imaging techniques and, in some instances, tissue biopsy. However, the Social Security Administration will not purchase diagnostic tests or procedures that may involve significant risk, such as biopsies or angiograms. Generally, the existing medical evidence will contain this information.

A longitudinal clinical record of at least 3 months demonstrating active disease despite prescribed treatment during this period with the expectation that the disease will remain active for 12 months is necessary for assessment of severity and duration of impairment.

To permit appropriate application of a listing, the specific diagnostic features that should be documented in the clinical record for each of the disorders are summarized for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), systemic vasculitis, systemic sclerosis and scleroderma, polymyositis or dermatomyositis, and undifferentiated connective tissue disorders.

In addition to the limitations caused by the connective tissue disorder per se, the chronic adverse effects of treatment (e.g., corticosteroid-related ischemic necrosis of bone) may result in functional loss.

These disorders may preclude performance of any gainful activity by reason of severe loss of function in a single organ or body system, or lesser degrees of functional loss in two or more organs/body systems associated with significant constitutional symptoms and signs of severe fatigue, fever, malaise, and weight loss. We use the term `severe' in these listings to describe medical severity; the term does not have the same meaning as it does when we use it in connection with a finding at the second step of the sequential evaluation processes in Sections 404.1520, 416.920, and 416.924.

1. Systemic lupus erythematosus (14.02) - This disease is characterized clinically by constitutional symptoms and signs (e.g., fever, fatigability, malaise, weight loss), multisystem involvement and frequently anemia, leukopenia, or thrombocytopenia. Immunologically, an array of circulating serum auto-antibodies can occur, but are highly variable in pattern. Generally the medical evidence will show that patients with this disease will fulfill the 1982 Revised Criteria for the Classification of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus of the American College of Rheumatology. (Tan, E.M., et al., Arthritis Rheum. 25:11271-1277, 1982).

2. Systemic vasculitis (14.03) - This disease occurs acutely in association with adverse drug reactions, certain chronic infections and occasionally, malignancies. More often it is idiopathic and chronic. There are several clinical patterns, including classical polyarteritis nodosa, aortic arch arteritis, giant cell arteritis, Wegener's granulomatosis, and vasculitis associated with other connective tissue disorders (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis, SLE, Sjogren's syndrome, cryoglobulinemia). Cutaneous vasculitis may or may not be associated with systemic involvement and the patterns of vascular and ischemic involvement are highly variable. The diagnosis is confirmed by angiography or tissue biopsy when the disease is suspected clinically. Most patients who are stated to have this disease will have the results of the confirmatory angiogram or biopsy in their medical records.

3. Systemic sclerosis and scleroderma (14.04) - These disorders constitute a spectrum of disease in which thickening of the skin is the clinical hallmark. Raynaud's phenomena, often severe and progressive, are especially frequent and may be the peripheral manifestation of a generalized vasospastic abnormality in the heart, lungs, and kidneys. The CREST syndrome (calcinosis, Raynaud's phenomena, esophageal dysmotility, sclerodactyly, talangiectasia) is a variant that may slowly progress to the generalized process, systemic sclerosis, over years. In addition to skin and blood vessels, the major organ/body system involvement includes the gastrointestinal tract, lungs, heart, kidneys, and muscle. Although arthritis can occur, joint dysfunction results primarily from soft tissue/cutaneous thickening, fibrosis, and contractures.

4. Polymyositis or dermatomyositis (14.05) - This disorder is primarily an inflammatory process in striated muscle, which can occur alone or in association with other connective tissue disorders or malignancy. Weakness and less frequently, pain and tenderness of the proximal limb-girdle musculature are the cardinal manifestations. Involvement of the cervical muscles, the cricopharyngeals, the intercostals, and diaphragm may occur in those with listing-level disease. Weakness of the pelvic girdle, as contemplated in Listing 14.05.A, may result in significant difficulty climbing stairs or rising from a chair without use of the arms. Proximal limb weakness in the upper extremities may result in inability to lift objects, and interference with dressing and combing hair. Weakness of anterior neck flexors may impair the ability to lift the head from the pillow in bed. The diagnosis is supported by elevated serum muscle enzymes (creatine phosphokinase (CPK), aminotransferase, aldolase), characteristic abnormalities on electromyography, and myositis on muscle biopsy.

5. Undifferentiated connective tissue disorder (14.06) - This listing includes syndromes with clinical and immunologic features of several connective tissue disorders, but that do not satisfy the criteria for any of the disorders described; for instance, the individual may have clinical features of systemic lupus erythematosus and systemic vasculitis and the serologic findings of rheumatoid arthritis. It also includes overlap syndromes with clinical features of more than one established connective tissue disorder. For example, the individual may have features of both rheumatoid arthritis and scleroderma. The correct designation of this disorder is important for assessment of prognosis.

C. Allergic disorders (e.g., asthma or atopic dermatitis) are discussed and evaluated under the appropriate listing of the affected body system.



14.02 Systemic lupus erythematosus. Documented as described in 14.00B1, with
A. One of the following:
1. Joint involvement, as described under the criteria in 1.00; or
2. Muscle involvement, as described under the criteria in 14.05; or
3. Ocular involvement, as described under the criteria in 2.00ff; or
4. Respiratory involvement, as described under the criteria in 3.00ff; or
5. Cardiovascular involvement, as described under the criteria in 4.00ff or 14.04D; or
6. Digestive involvement, as described under the criteria in 5.00ff; or
7. Renal involvement, as described under the criteria in 6.00ff; or
8. Skin involvement, as described under the criteria in 8.00ff; or
9. Neurological involvement, as described under the criteria in 11.00ff; or
10. Mental involvement, as described under the criteria in 12.00ff.
B. Lesser involvement of two or more organs/body systems listed in paragraph A, with significant, documented, constitutional symptoms and signs of severe fatigue, fever, malaise, and weight loss. At least one of the organs/body systems must be involved to at least a moderate level of severity.

14.03 Systemic vasculitis. Documented as described in 14.00B2, including documentation by angiography or tissue biopsy, with:
A. Involvement of a single organ or body system, as described under the criteria in 14.02A
B. Lesser involvement of two or more organs/body systems listed in 14.02A, with significant, documented, constitutional symptoms and signs of severe fatigue, fever, malaise, and weight loss. At least one of the organs/body systems must be involved to at least a moderate level of severity.

14.04 Systemic sclerosis and scleroderma. Documented as described in 14.00B3, with:
A. One of the following:
1. Muscle involvement, as described under the criteria in 14.05; or
2. Respiratory involvement, as described under the criteria in 3.00ff; or
3. Cardiovascular involvement, as described under the criteria in 4.00ff; or
4. Digestive involvement, as described under the criteria in 5.00ff; or
5. Renal involvement, as described under the criteria in 6.00ff.
B. Lesser involvement of two or more organs/body systems listed in paragraph A, with significant, documented, constitutional symptoms and signs of severe fatigue, fever, malaise, and weight loss. At least one of the organs/body systems must be involved to at least a moderate level of severity.
C. Generalized scleroderma with digital contractures.
D. Severe Raynaud's phenomena, characterized by digital ulcerations, ischemia, or gangrene.

14.05 Polymyositis or dermatomyositis. Documented as described in 14.00B4, with
A. Severe proximal limb-girdle (shoulder and/or pelvic) muscle weakness, as described in 14.08B4.
B. Less severe limb-girdle muscle weakness than in 14.05A, associated with cervical muscle weakness and one of the following to at least a moderate level of severity:
1. Impaired swallowing with dysphagia and episodes of aspiration due to cricopharyngeal weakness, or
2. Impaired respiration due to intercostal and diaphragmatic muscle weakness.
C. If associated with malignant tumor, as described under the criteria in 13.00ff.
D. If associated with generalized connective tissue disease, as described under the criteria in 14.02, 14.03, 14.04, or 14.06.

14.06 Undifferentiated connective tissue disorder. Documented as described in 14.00B5, and with impairment as described under the criteria in 14.02A, 14.02B, or 14.04.

14.07 Immunoglobulln deficiency syndromes or deficiencies of cell-mediated Immunity, excepting HIV infection. Associated with documented, recurrent severe infection occurring 3 or more times within a 5-month period.

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