Post-Polio Syndrome & Social Security Disability Insurance

Learn more about the SSDI approval process for individuals with Post-Polio Syndrome.

SSDI Eligibility Guidelines: Post-Polio Syndrome

Determine if an individual is working (engaging in substantial gainful activity) according to the SSA definition. Earning more than $1,170 a month as an employee is enough to be disqualified from receiving Social Security disability benefits.

Conclude the post-polio syndrome disability must be severe enough to significantly limit one’s ability to perform basic work activities needed to do most jobs. For example:

  • Walking, standing, sitting, lifting, pushing, pulling, reaching, carrying or handling
  • Seeing, hearing and speaking
  • Understanding/carrying out and remembering simple instructions
  • Responding appropriately to supervision, co-workers and usual work situations
  • Dealing with changes in a routine work setting


According to the Social Security disability adjudication, post-polio sequelae refer to multiple physical and mental disorders that may be demonstrated by polio survivors many years after an acute polio infection. Motor weakness is the most common residual of acute polio infection and is usually manifested by observable weakness, muscle atrophy, and reduced peripheral reflexes. In the absence of contrary evidence, as long as the medical findings support a reasonable medical nexus between the prior polio infection and the present manifestation of any one or combination of the disorders discussed in Social Security Ruling 03-1p (early advanced degenerative arthritis, sleep disorders, respiratory insufficiency and various mental disorders), Social Security will find the claimant has post-polio sequelae. Furthermore, the criteria found in medical listing 11.11 (anterior poliomyelitis) are applicable to post-polio sequelae. If any of the following are present, the claimant will be found to be disabled: 1. Persistent difficulty with swallowing or breathing; 2. Unintelligible speech; and 3. Disorganization of motor function as found in medical listing 11.04B, i.e., significant and persistent disorganization of motor function in two extremities, resulting in sustained disturbance of gross and dexterous movements, or gait and station. The findings presented by the claimant may meet the preceding or be found to “medically equate” the preceding.

Explore the ability of an individual to perform work they have done in the past despite their post-polio syndrome. If the SSA finds that a person can do his past work, benefits are denied. If the person cannot, then the process proceeds to the fifth and final step.


Review age, education, work experience and physical/mental condition to determine what other work, if any, the person can perform. To determine post-polio syndrome disability, the SSA enlists medical-vocational rules, which vary according to age.

For example, if a person is:

Under age 50 and, as a result of the symptoms of post-polio syndrome, unable to perform what the SSA calls sedentary work, then the SSA will reach a determination of disabled. Sedentary work requires the ability to lift a maximum of 10 pounds at a time, sit six hours and occasionally walk and stand two hours per eight-hour day.

Age 50 or older and, due to the post-polio syndrome disability, limited to performing sedentary work, but has no work-related skills that allow him to do so, the SSA will reach a determination of disabled.

Age 55 or older and, due to the disability, limited to performing light work, but has no work-related skills that allow him to do so, the SSA will reach a determination of disabled.

Over age 60 and, due to the post-polio syndrome disability, unable to perform any of the jobs he performed in the last 15 years, the SSA will likely reach a determination of disabled.

Any age and, because of post-polio syndrome, has a psychological impairment that prevents even simple, unskilled work, the SSA will reach a determination of post-polio syndrome disabled.

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