DIABETES AND SOCIAL SECURITY: WHAT IS AND WHAT ISN’T A DISABILITY?
With close to 10% of Americans dealing with some form of Diabetes, it is no wonder that our attorneys are often asked if having Diabetes will qualify for Social Security Disability benefits.
The answer is yes, and no.
Since 2011, the Social Security Disability Administration recognizes Diabetes only as a potential cause of disability, and not as a disability in itself. Before 2011, diabetes was considered a ‘Listed Impairment’, or the inability to work. It was included in the list of conditions that automatically established that an individual is disabled if he/she meets all the criteria in the Listing. Since then, Diabetes is no longer a Listed Impairment.
Diabetes is a chronic condition that results from the body’s inability to produce or use insulin. Although Diabetes usually requires lifelong treatment, medical advances in the diagnosis and treatment of Diabetes have resulted in better management of the disease in adults and children.
But some of the complications that arise from Diabetes are known to be disabling including: diabetic retinopathy (eye damage to the small blood vessels in the retina); cardiovascular disease (Diabetes can accelerate the development of artery disease or peripheral arterial disease which can lead to amputations); diabetic nephropathy and diabetic neuropathy (organ and nerve damage); and more.
HOW SSA EVALUATES DIABETIC COMPLICATIONS WHEN DETERMINING IF YOU QUALIFY TO COLLECT SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY BENEFITS
SSA will examine the complications of your Diabetes to see if it has caused a Listed Impairment. Some of this include:
- Amputation of an extremity, under the musculoskeletal system Listings
- Diabetic retinopathy( (eye damage to the small blood vessels in the retina) under the special senses and speech Listings
- Hypertension, cardiac arrhythmias, and heart failure, under the cardiovascular system Listings (Diabetes can accelerate the development of artery disease or peripheral arterial disease which can lead to amputations);
- Gastroparesis and ischemic bowel disease (intestinal necrosis), under the digestive system Listings
- Diabetic nephropathy, (organ and nerve damage); under the genitourinary impairments Listings
- Slow-healing bacterial and fungal infections, under the skin disorders Listings
- Diabetic neuropathy, under the neurological Listings
- Cognitive impairments, depression, anxiety, and eating disorders, under the mental disorders Listings
Establishing Diabetes as a cause of disability in your social security disability case requires a thorough understanding of the disease and resulting complications. To win your disability case, you must be able to prove not only that you have Diabetes, but that the disease has resulted in serious damage which meet a Listing or are otherwise disabling
3 tips on improving your chances of being awarded your social security disability benefits can be found here.