Disability Benefits Post Organ Transplant

Many people do not know that if you have received a transplant, or are on the donor waitlist, you may be eligible for Social Security Administration Disability Benefits for a period of 12 months after your surgery, and you may continue to be eligible after the first year, if your medical condition continues to prevent gainful employment.

Qualifying for Disability Benefits After Organ Transplant

Organ transplant surgery is only necessary when an organ fails as a result of an injury, illness, or a defect. A failing organ requires constant monitoring and this means working and earning a living is virtually impossible while you’re waiting for organ transplantation.

Maintaining employment after surgery is often just as impossible. You’ll require constant monitoring immediately following surgery and the recovery process will be long and difficult. Anti-rejection medications are necessary and even then, you may suffer side effects from the medications themselves and other difficulties as your body adjusts to and begins to work with the new organ.

If you require an organ transplant (heart, lung, kidney, liver, or bone marrow/stem cell) or are now recovering from such a procedure, then you automatically qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. You must still however:

  • Submit an application,
  • Fully document your medical condition,
  • Meet the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) technical/financial eligibility rules.


In reviewing your application for benefits, the SSA will compare your medical records to the listings in the Blue Book, which is a manual of impairments and the documentation necessary for proving disability with each.

  • Meet a Listing: If the condition causing organ failure is listed in the Blue Book, then it is under that listing that your application will be evaluated.
  • Match a Listing: If however your medical condition is not listed, the SSA will compare your impairment with a similar one that is listed. Your placement on the transplant waiting list is often proof enough to match any organ failure listing in the Blue Book.
  • Qualifying after Surgery: If you have already undergone an organ transplant surgery, then you’re eligible to receive benefits for at least 12 months after surgery, and you can qualify by meeting or matching any Blue Book listing for organ transplant surgery.
  • Continuing Eligibility Reviews: Twelve months after an organ transplant, the SSA will review your condition again to see if you still qualify, and if your activities of daily living are still severely limited and prevent you from working, then you’ll continue receiving monthly SSD payments.

The minimum medical evidence necessary to qualify before transplant surgery is proof of organ failure and evidence that you’ve been added to the organ transplant waiting list.

Application Process

When you’re ready to initiate your claim for benefits, it is important to understand there are two disability programs for which you may qualify:

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), which is intended to pay benefits to eligible disabled workers,
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which is designed to pay benefits to applicants with limited financial resources, regardless of age or work history.
    • Requires an appointment with your local office as there is no online application process for this program. To make an appointment to apply, call 1-800-772-1213.

Note: As of March 17, 2020, SSA suspended face-to-face service to the public in their field offices and hearings offices nationwide until further notice. However, they are still able to provide critical services via phone, fax and online.