Diabetics come from all walks of life, require different treatments, and experience different outcomes. Many live well despite their diagnosis. Others, however, find themselves with complications that make their everyday existence difficult. Those with complications may find that they are unable to continue working and must seek Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).
What is Diabetes?
Located just beneath the stomach, the pancreas produces enzymes used to further break down food after it has left the stomach, as well as producing the insulin that the body uses to regulate blood sugar. When the pancreas fails to function properly in the production and/or regulation of insulin, diabetes is the result. Upward of 1.4 million people are diagnosed every year with one of two types of diabetes:
- Type 1 - Occurs when the body does not produce insulin, preventing glucose from being delivered from the bloodstream to the cells of the body, where glucose is used for energy.
- Type 2 - Occurs when the body does not use insulin properly, causing blood sugar levels to rise in the blood. The pancreas may initially produce extra insulin to combat the problem, but will eventually be unable to keep up the necessary production to keep blood sugar at normal levels.
What Causes Diabetes?
Just eating too many sweets isn't enough to cause diabetes, despite what folk wisdom might suggest. In reality, there are a number of risk factors, including:
- Family history
- Ethnic background
- High blood pressure
- Sedentary lifestyle
Is Diabetes a Disability?
This can be a tricky question. The short answer is, yes, diabetes is a disability protected by law in most states. What that means is that individuals with diabetes are entitled to some protections at school and in the workplace, to help them to live full and productive lives.
However - and this is important - individuals with diabetes are not automatically eligible to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Diabetes in and of itself is not regarded as a qualifying condition to receive SSDI.
Getting SSDI for Diabetic Complications
The SSA has a comprehensive Listing of Impairments that lists every condition and impairment that can make an individual eligible for disability payments. Diabetes is not included as a separate disability listing, so being diagnosed does not make you eligible for benefits. But, if you have conditions that have developed as a result of your diabetes, and these conditions affect your ability to work, you may be eligible for SSDI benefits. These conditions include:
- Diabetic neuropathy
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Diabetic peripheral neuropathies
- Amputation of an extremity
- Cardiovascular problems
- Chronic skin infections
Qualifying for SSDI With Diabetic Complications
In addition to the diabetic complications listed above, the SSA requires that you meet certain criteria to be considered for SSDI benefits. This criteria includes:
- You must have a qualifying condition or combination of conditions
- You must be able to provide medical evidence of your condition
- Your condition should be limiting the number of hours you work, if you can work at all
- Your condition is expected to last at least one year or result in death
Applying for SSDI With Diabetic Complications
If you have diabetes and have one or more of the above conditions, you can apply to receive SSDI. However, you must have a wealth of proof for your condition, including medical diagnoses as well as proof that you are seeking treatment. The process for applying to receive SSDI can be a lengthy one, and can take anywhere from 30 days up to two years before a final decision is rendered. Up to 70% of claims are rejected at the initial application stage, and this is where many people give up. Working with an attorney experienced in SSDI cases can help you to navigate the process through denials and appeals to reach a positive outcome.