March 4, 2014

Social Security Disability Benefits for Claimants with Diabetes

Diabetes (also known as diabetes mellitus) has two main types.  Type 1 DM (diabetes mellitus) comes from the body’s inability to produce insulin.  People with this condition typically have to inject themselves with insulin or wear an insulin pump.  Type 2 DM stems from the body’s resistance to insulin – that is, the body’s cells cannot properly use insulin.  Type 2 DM is also known as adult-onset diabetes.

Some symptoms of diabetes may include:

  • weight loss
  • frequent urination
  • increased thirstDiabetes 3.5.14
  • increased hunger
  • skin rashes
  • blurred vision

These symptoms may onset in a matter of weeks after triggered (usually by certain infections from the environment) for type 1 patients as opposed to slowly or not at all for type 2 diabetes patients.  Type 1 diabetes is usually inherited, with certain infections bringing it out.  Type 2 diabetes is typically caused by lifestyle habits and genetics.  There is no known cure for diabetes.

Diabetes can often be controlled with medicine and/or lifestyle changes.  Sometimes, though, in spite of the patient’s best efforts, symptoms persist.  For example, some medical conditions might prevent the patient from being able to tolerate necessary medication or endure an exercise program.  Consistent access to treatment and medication is another hurdle many patients face due to lack of insurance and financial resources.

Diabetes can be a very debilitating condition, and it is possible to receive Social Security Disability benefits because of it.  There is not a specific listing for diabetes in the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments, but diabetes is addressed  in Section 9.00 – Endocrine Disorders.  Simply having a diagnosis of diabetes is not enough to meet Social Security’s definition of disability.  Your diabetes must cause functional limitations that prevent you from performing work-like activities on a regular and continuing basis.

Diabetes may cause some symptoms that are severe enough by themselves to meet or equal one of Social Security’s other listings.  Some of these symptoms, as well as the listing that address them, include:

In my experience, it greatly helps your case if you have thorough medical records when you go into your Social Security disability hearing.  It is best to have recent records from a specialist such as an endocrinologist.  In a hearing, we want to be able to show that you have been compliant with the treatment your doctors have recommended.  These treatments may include modifying your diet, exercising consistently, or taking medication regularly.  It is also helpful to have the results of medical tests that support your diagnosis.  These tests may include blood work (showing your glucose levels, for example), nerve conduction studies (proving that arm or leg numbness and pain is caused by neuropathy), or eye exams (to show that vision problems are caused by retinopathy).

In my experience I would also recommend hiring an attorney or other representation.  The Social Security disability claims process can be long and confusing.  Most Social Security disability law firms offer a free consultation to evaluate your case for Social Security disability benefits.

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