Navigating Disability

Filing for disability with dysautonomia/autonomic disorders

Dysautonomia can be a primary disorder, or it can be a secondary condition alongside Ehlers-Danlos, Chiari Malformation or Lupus to name a few. Dysautonomia is a full-body disease that affects everyone differently. Some people with dysautonomia will only have mild symptoms, while others may become fully disabled by the condition.

The Social Security Administration does not award benefits based on simply having a condition. Instead, it will base an approval or denial on the extent to which a condition causes functional limitations. These limitations must be great enough to make work activity not possible. For children, they need to make it impossible to engage in age-appropriate activities.


The definition of disability under Social Security is different than with other programs. Social Security pays only for total disability. No benefits are payable for partial disability or for short-term disability.

Disability under Social Security is based on your inability to work. The Social Security Administration considers you disabled if you meet the following three conditions:

  • You cannot do work that you did before.
  • The Social Security Administration determines that you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s).
  • Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.
You qualify for Social Security benefits by earning credits when you work in a job and pay Social Security taxes.

Social Security credits are based on the amount of your earnings. They use your earnings and work history to determine your eligibility for disability benefits.

As of 2017, a person could receive one credit for each $1,300 of earnings, up to the maximum of four credits per year.

Each year, the amount of earnings needed for credits goes up slightly, as average earnings levels increase. The credits you earn remain on your Social Security record, even if you change jobs or have no earnings for a while.

How many credits are needed?
The number of credits needed disability benefits depend on how old you are when you become disabled.

  • If you become disabled before age 24, you generally need to have completed 1.5 years of work (six credits) in the three years prior to becoming disabled.
  • If you are age 24 through 30, you generally need credits for half of the time between age 21 and the time you became disabled.
  • If you are disabled at age 31 or older, you generally need at least 20 credits in the 10 years immediately prior to becoming disabled.

The following table shows examples of how many credits you would need if you became disabled at various selected ages. This table does not cover all situations.

Age at Onset                               Number of Credits

Before 24                                              6 credits

24-30                                                     4 to 10 credits

31-42                                                     20 credits

43-61                                                     20 to 40 credits

62 to full retirement age                   40 credits

The Faces of Dysautonomia

Amber Griggs

Jeremiah Swegle


Vanessa Matelski



Copyright 2018 Dysautonomia Advocacy Foundation

No information found on this site should be construed as medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult a medical professional for questions about your health.