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Are There Disability Benefits for Tuberculosis?

Are There Disability Benefits for Tuberculosis?

Navigating the complex world of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) can be daunting, especially when dealing with a serious health condition like Tuberculosis (TB). If you or a loved one are battling TB and wondering if you qualify for SSDI or SSI, this blog will provide essential insights into the criteria and process involved.

What is Tuberculosis?

Tuberculosis is an infectious disease primarily affecting the lungs, caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It can spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. While TB is treatable, it can become a severe and chronic illness, especially if not properly managed. Symptoms of TB include:

  • Persistent cough lasting more than three weeks

  • Chest pain

  • Coughing up blood

  • Fatigue

  • Weight loss

  • Fever and night sweats

Qualifying for SSDI and SSI with Tuberculosis

The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes TB as a potentially disabling condition. To qualify for SSDI or SSI, you must meet specific medical and non-medical criteria.

Medical Criteria

The SSA's Blue Book, which lists impairments and the criteria for disability evaluation, includes Tuberculosis under Section 3.00 - Respiratory Disorders. To qualify based on TB, the following must be demonstrated:

  1. Active Disease: You must have active pulmonary TB that has not responded to treatment, or you have complications that impair your ability to work.

  2. Chronic Pulmonary Insufficiency: Evidence of chronic pulmonary insufficiency, such as persistent fever, night sweats, weight loss, and hemoptysis (coughing up blood), can support your claim.

  3. Functional Limitations: You must show that TB severely limits your ability to perform basic work-related activities for at least 12 continuous months. This can include difficulty walking, standing, lifting, or other physical activities due to respiratory distress.

Medical documentation is crucial. This includes medical history, clinical findings, imaging results (like chest X-rays), and laboratory tests (such as sputum cultures).

Non-Medical Criteria

Beyond medical eligibility, SSDI and SSI have distinct non-medical requirements:

  • SSDI: You must have earned enough work credits through your employment history. Typically, this means you have worked and paid Social Security taxes for a certain number of years.

  • SSI: This is need-based, so you must have limited income and resources. Unlike SSDI, SSI does not require work credits.

The Application Process

Applying for SSDI or SSI involves several steps:

  1. Gather Documentation: Collect all necessary medical records, employment history, and personal identification documents.

  2. Complete the Application: You can apply online, over the phone, or at your local Social Security office. Be thorough and detailed in your responses.

  3. Medical Evaluation: The SSA may request a consultative examination to better understand the extent of your TB and its impact on your daily life.

  4. Wait for a Decision: The review process can take several months. During this time, the SSA may contact you for additional information or clarification.

Tips for a Successful Claim

  • Detailed Medical Records: Ensure your medical records clearly document the severity and persistence of your TB.

  • Consistent Treatment: Regularly follow your treatment plan and keep records of all medical visits and treatments.

  • Consult a Professional: Consider seeking help from a disability attorney who can guide you through the process and improve your chances of approval.


Tuberculosis, especially in its severe and chronic forms, can significantly impact your ability to work and perform daily activities. If you believe you qualify for SSDI or SSI due to TB, understanding the eligibility criteria and meticulously preparing your application are key to navigating the process successfully.

At the Law Offices of Christopher Le, we specialize in helping individuals with disabilities secure the benefits they deserve. Contact us today for a consultation, and let us assist you in your journey towards obtaining the support you need.

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