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Social Security Administration Disability and Diabetes

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder which affects the process of the digestion of food for our bodies and the subsequent breakdown of the food we eat into glucose or sugar for fuel.

A separate process occurs in the pancreas which produces insulin. After you eat the pancreas is responsible for releasing insulin which helps move the glucose (from the digestion of food) into the cells, thereby lowering the level of blood sugar. What happens if insulin is not present? Our cells cannot take in the glucose.

If you have hyperglycemia it means that your blood sugar is too high. This can occur because your body is not producing insulin, it is producing insulin at an insufficient level or the cells in your body are not responding to the insulin produced.

If any of these conditions exist, it will cause an excess of glucose in the blood and urine. Cells also will lack the necessary glucose for growth and energy.

Types of Diabetic Conditions


The Social Security Administration recognizes Diabetes Mellitus as a potentially disabling condition. There are two major types: Type I and Type 2. Both are recognized as chronic disorders which can be extremely serious.

This condition was previously called “juvenile diabetes” or “insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.” This condition causes an absolute deficiency of insulin production that commonly begins in childhood and continues throughout adulthood.

This condition is commonly referred to as adult onset diabetes. Type II occurs when the body’s cells begin to resist the effects of insulin, negatively affecting metabolism and absorption of glucose. Changes in lifestyle and diet can frequently improve this condition.

Can I get Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income for Diabetes?


The Social Security Administration has two methods for approving claimants for Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income. Claimants can either have a condition which “meets or exceeds” a listing in the Social Security Administration Listing of Impairments or prove that their condition is so severe they cannot perform substantial gainful activity (through a medical vocational allowance).

Meeting a Social Security Administration Listing for Diabetes


The Social Security Administration does have a listing for diabetes, and it can be confusing when claimants have been diagnosed with diabetes, meet the nonmedical requirements for diabetes and continue to be denied Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income benefits.

What does this mean when this happens? This means that although you may have been diagnosed with diabetes, the SSA does not think that the severity of your diabetic condition meets or equals their current listing. Keep in mind, many claimants have diabetes and are able to work. The SSA listing identifies the degree of severity of any given condition that the SSA believes would KEEP you from working or performing substantial gainful activity.

Previously, to meet the diabetes listing, you had to prove that you had either significant neuropathy which caused a loss of function in two extremities, resulting in a disturbance in your ability to function and your gait, acidosis which occurred every 2 months (documented with medical proof) or severe visual impairments.

Beginning in 2011, the Social Security Administration expects that claimants will first have a diagnosis for diabetes and then they will review how their condition affects their various body systems. For example, they will evaluate cardiac arrhythmias under 4.00, intestinal necrosis under 5.00, and cerebral edema and seizures under 11.00.

If you have diabetic peripheral neurovascular disease that leads to gangrene and subsequent amputation of an extremity under 1.00; diabetic retinopathy under 2.00; coronary artery disease and peripheral vascular disease under 4.00; diabetic gastroparesis that results in abnormal gastrointestinal motility under 5.00; diabetic nephropathy under 6.00; poorly healing bacterial and fungal skin infections under 8.00; diabetic peripheral and sensory neuropathies under 11.00; and cognitive impairments, depression, and anxiety under 12.00.

Approval for Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income for Diabetes without meeting an SSA listing


Claimants whose condition does not meet a listing must prove that they cannot perform substantial gainful activity. If your condition does not meet a listing, contact a disability lawyer to find out what information you will need to have in your medical files to prove you are disabled, unable to work for at least 12 continuous months and should be awarded Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance benefits.
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