November 11, 2012
Diabetes and Winning Your Social Security Disability Claim
Practicing Social Security Disability law in Indianapolis has opened my eyes to how many people suffer from diabetes. Many of my clients suffer from several different disabling conditions at the same time, and more often than not, diabetes is on their list. At your disability hearing in front of the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), the judge is required to consider all of your severe impairments when determining whether you are disabled. Therefore, it is very important to let your attorney or representative know if diabetes contributes to your inability to work. I talk to my clients extensively about how diabetes keeps them from working so I can better understand their limitations and present them to the judge.
Diabetes mellitus (or simply diabetes) occurs when a person’s blood glucose level, commonly called “blood sugar,” is unacceptably high, usually due to poor insulin production in the body. Diabetes is labelled as “type I” or “type II”. The symptoms of diabetes can include:
- Frequent urination
- Numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
- Blurred vision
In my practice, the most common reason my diabetic clients find themselves unable to work is the tingling or burning known as neuropathy in their hands and feet. They also suffer other symptoms that keep them from working when they are unable to control their diabetes with medication or insulin. In my experience as a disability lawyer, the inability to stand and walk can greatly reduce the number and types of jobs a person can perform. Many of my clients with neuropathy or swelling in their legs and feet cannot sit for very long without pain, and they are required to elevate their legs to relieve that pain. These limitations reduce their “physical residual functional capacity” – the types of activities they are physically able to perform once their disabling conditions are considered. If the Social Security Administration (SSA) finds that your capacity to perform work-like activities is too low, it may find that you cannot work. The SSA must consider all of your symptoms from diabetes, including those that occur when your blood sugar is too low.
In my experience, most judges pay close attention to whether you are compliant with medical treatment and medications. If the judge finds that your symptoms are the result of your failure to take your insulin as prescribed, she may find that your symptoms are preventable, and therefore not really keeping you from working. Receiving consistent treatment from a physician who specializes in diabetes mellitus, and complying with that treatment, may be very beneficial in getting the benefits you deserve.