Disability Benefits for Diabetes
Diabetes is a common medical condition. According to the Diabetes Research Institute, about 28.7 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with diabetes. They estimate that about 8.5 million others have diabetes but have not been diagnosed. Often, diabetes can be controlled through diet, exercise, and medication.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes mellitus is a family of medical conditions that affect how the body processes glucose. The two chronic types of diabetes are Diabetes I and II. Other forms, such as gestational diabetes, are generally temporary and situational.
The Difference Between Diabetes I and Diabetes II
Diabetes I is also known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes. However, “juvenile diabetes” is a bit misleading, since the condition may appear in adulthood–and, Type II diabetes may emerge in childhood. Type I diabetes is an auto-immune condition in which the immune system attacks the pancreas, stopping or significantly decreasing insulin production. Since insulin is necessary to transform glucose into energy. This type of diabetes is incurable and is treated with diet, exercise, and supplemental insulin to aid in processing glucose.
People with Type II diabetes also have decreased insulin production, which interferes with glucose processing and can raise the amount of sugar in the blood. They also become insulin-resistant, meaning that their bodies are less able to use insulin. While this type of diabetes is also incurable, it can often be controlled without medication.
Symptoms of Diabetes
Some people with diabetes, especially Type II, either have no symptoms or very mild symptoms of the disability. Some of the most common symptoms among those who do experience this disability include:
- Frequent urination
- Unexpected weight loss
- Blurred vision
- Dry skin
- Excessive hunger
- Having cuts or sores that don’t heal normally
Most people, even if their diabetes is symptomatic, are able to work and carry on with most aspects of their lives.
Can You Get SSDI for Diabetes?
The answer to this question is a bit complicated. Diabetes itself is not a listed condition and its direct symptoms are not sufficient to render a person disabled for SSDI purposes. However, untreated or poorly controlled diabetes can cause a wide variety of other medical conditions, some of which are quite serious.
When someone who suffers from diabetes pursues Social Security disability benefits as a result, these other conditions are evaluated by the standards of their own categories, without regard to the diabetes. For example:
- Diabetes-triggered hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) can cause diabetic ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis is a potentially fatal condition that can cause a variety of other complications, including cardiac arrhythmia, cerebral edema, seizures, and intestinal necrosis. These conditions will be assessed by the standards set forth in the appropriate section of the Social Security Blue Book.
- Chronic hyperglycemia can have a number of severe impacts, including peripheral neurovascular disease (which may lead to gangrene and amputation), diabetic retinopathy, coronary artery disease, peripheral vascular disease, diabetic gastroparesis, diabetic nephropathy, cognitive impairments, depression, and anxiety. Again, each of these resulting conditions is evaluated by the standards of its own category.
- Hypoglycemia leads to fainting, seizures, altered mental states, and cognitive deficits.
In short, while diabetes is generally not a qualifying condition for Social Security disability, SSDI benefits may be awarded for one or more conditions resulting from diabetes. If the resulting condition is one that is listed in the Social Security Blue Book, you will have to meet the criteria set forth in that listing. If the condition isn’t listed or your disability results from a combination of conditions caused by diabetes or a combination of diabetes-triggered conditions and other conditions, you will have to show that the condition or combination of conditions meets the severity level of a listed condition.
Pursuing SSDI for Diabetes-Related Conditions
If you’re suffering from serious complications of diabetes Type I or Type II, you may be entitled to Social Security disability benefits. However, simply being diagnosed with one or more qualifying conditions doesn’t guarantee that you are eligible for SSDI. You will have to demonstrate that your condition or combination of conditions leaves you unable to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA).
Many of the conditions that may stem from diabetes have their own specific listings that set forth exactly what type of symptoms and limitations are required to establish that you are disabled. Some also require specific testing to document the presence of the condition or its severity.
You will also have to fulfill other eligibility requirements, such as having accrued sufficient work credits before you became disabled. For most applicants, that means at least 10 years of work history with sufficient earnings, and at least five years of the last 10. However, the exact requirements differ depending on the age at which the applicant became disabled. Younger workers may qualify with fewer work credits.
Get the Help You Need Today
If you’re applying for Social Security disability for a diabetes-related condition, you owe it to yourself to make your initial application as strong as possible. As you can see, demonstrating that you are disabled due to a condition caused by diabetes can be complicated. You’ll have to assemble sufficient supporting documentation to persuade the Social Security Administration (SSA) that you not only suffer from a particular condition or set of conditions but also that the symptoms prevent you from supporting yourself through work.
When you’re inexperienced with the SSDI process, it’s easy to make mistakes that can result in a denial. While a denial isn’t necessarily the end of the road, the Social Security disability appeals process can take a long time. In some areas of the country, it can take more than a year just to get to a hearing. Your best chance of getting SSDI benefits as quickly as possible is to make sure you submit the strongest application possible. The experienced disability benefits advocates at Disability Help Group have a thorough understanding of how the process works, what kind of documentation is required, and how to present relevant information clearly and concisely.
To learn more about how we can help you put forth the strongest application or request for reconsideration possible, or appeal your denial, call 800-800-3332. Or, if you prefer contact us here today.