March 30, 2015
Diabetes and Your Social Security Disability Claim
If you suffer from diabetes and your symptoms keep you from being able to work, you may be eligible for either Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments.
The prevalence of diabetes among my clients seems to be ever increasing. Some of my clients suffer from Type I diabetes, which typically starts in childhood. However, most of my clients with diabetes have Type II diabetes, or adult-onset diabetes. Unfortunately, many of my clients have medical impairments that greatly increase their risk of developing diabetes, such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol. Others develop risk factors such as obesity, poor diet, and physical inactivity due to the physical limitations caused by their other medical impairments. If you suffer from diabetes, even if you do not consider it to be the most disabling condition you have, its effects on your ability to work may be substantial. When talking to Social Security about your disabling conditions, it is always important to discuss all of your impairments, even if you don’t think a particular condition like diabetes would be disabling to you all by itself. Social Security determines your limitations based on the combination of all of your functional limitations that result from any and all medically determinable impairments you have.
While the Social Security Administration (SSA) addresses diabetes in Section 9.00 of its Listing of Impairments, diabetes is no longer a listed impairment. (Social Security removed the listing for diabetes in 2011.) Instead, Social Security notes that the effects of diabetes on different body systems might allow you to meet or equal other sections of the Listings. In Social Security Ruling 14-2p, the SSA identifies some examples of the effects of diabetes, including:
- Diabetic neuropathy (evaluated under Listing 11.14 for peripheral neuropathies)
- Diabetic retinopathy (evaluated under Listings 2.02, 2.03, and 2.04, which deal with vision impairments)
- Amputation (evaluated under Listing 1.05 in the musculoskeletal section)
- Hypertension, cardiac arrhythmias, heart failure, or chronic venous insufficiency (evaluated under the cardiovascular system, which is section 4 of the Listings)
- Gastroparesis or ischemic bowel disease (evaluated under the Listings in section 5, which addresses gastrointestinal impairments)
- Slow-healing bacterial and fungal infections of the skin (evaluated under the Listings in section 8)
- Diabetic nephropathy (evaluated under Listing 6.06 in the genitourinary system section)
- Mental health issues such as cognitive problems, depression, anxiety, or eating disorders (evaluated under the Listings in Section 12 for mental disorders)
Symptoms vary among individuals, but many of my clients complain of similar restrictions on their work-like activities. For example, they are unable to sit or stand for even short periods; they have trouble using their hands on a frequent basis; and they would have difficulty completing an eight hour workday due to fatigue, pain, and the inability to control their blood sugar levels.
Most of my clients suffering from severe diabetes have plenty of medical records to support their claims, because symptoms of diabetes require so much monitoring and treatment. The fact is, the fight against the symptoms of diabetes is a constant and life-long struggle. If diabetes or any other medical condition is preventing you from working to support yourself or your family, it may be in your best interest to file an initial application with the SSA and then follow through with any appeals that are necessary to receive the benefits you deserve.