Qualifying for Disability Benefits with Diabetes

The American Diabetes Association reports that 25.8 million people in the United States have diabetes, meaning that 8.3% of the population suffers from the disease. People with diabetes may be eligible for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. In order to recover, you must be able to show either that you have uncontrolled diabetes that has prevented from you working for at least 12 months or that you will be unable to work for at least another 12 months. However, diabetes may not qualify you for disability benefits for diabetes if it can be shown that you are not following the treatment prescribed by your doctor.

Diabetes used to be a separate category in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Listing of Impairments. However, the SSA no longer lists diabetes this way so a diagnosis of diabetes will not by itself make you eligible for disability benefits. The most likely reasons for the change are the new medical advances in detecting diabetes and the new treatments for keeping diabetes under control. Therefore, eligibility for SSI/SSD benefits usually depends on the complications arising from diabetes that qualify an applicant for existing disability listings. The following are common complications from diabetes, which are recognized disability listings:

  • Blindness or loss of vision
  • Kidney disease
  • Peripheral neuropathy or nerve damage in the hands, feet, arms or legs causing a significant impairment in the ability to walk, stand or use your hands
  • Cardiovascular impairments
  • Amputations

Many people with diabetes will not have complications that meet the criteria under any of the listings. Instead, the SSA can evaluate the extent to which the diabetes limits your functioning so that you are unable to work. Most people who apply for disability benefits relating to diabetes are denied the first time and must file an appeal for an administrative hearing and possibly a subsequent court action. A SSI/SSD lawyer can help you determine the likelihood of showing that your diabetes prevented you from working, and help you can get the benefits you deserve.

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