Can I Get Disability for Diabetes?

A stethoscope and insulin needle rest on a diabetes pamphlet.

Diabetes is a serious disease in the United States – the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 11% of the U.S. population had diabetes (diagnosed and undiagnosed) in 2019. Another study shows that adults 50 or older with diabetes develop disability 6 to 7 years earlier and spend about 1 to 2 more years in a disabled state than adults without diabetes.

The Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act protect qualified individuals with a disability, and amendments and regulations for these laws indicate that diabetes is a disability. The American Diabetes Association strongly agrees that diabetes is a disability and devotes much time and effort to help ensure that individuals with diabetes are not discriminated against.

So yes, diabetes is a disease that disables, but in order to receive Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, the real question is: Does the Social Security Administration (SSA) consider diabetes a disability?

Is Diabetes a Disability According to the Social Security Administration?

While the SSA recognizes that diabetes can be a disabling disease, it removed diabetes as an independent listing in its Blue Book (its impairment listing manual) in 2011. In 2014, it issued a policy interpretation ruling that provides information about the types of impairments and limitations that result from diabetes, as well as guidance on how to evaluate diabetes in Disability claims.

There are several severe health conditions related to diabetes, such as neuropathy, which have Blue Book listings. If you are diagnosed with diabetes and suffer from one of the diabetes-related health complications listed in the Blue Book, you may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits.

An experienced SSD attorney and your physician can help you determine which Blue Book listing you should include in your application for Disability benefits, as well as what medical documentation and proof will support your claim. My firm provides a free evaluation of Social Security Disability claims through this online form. Or, if you’d rather talk to someone, call us at 1-866-900-7078.

The Disability Benefits That May Be Available to You

If you have severe diabetes-related impairments and your doctor diagnosed you with diabetes and doesn’t think you’ll be able to work for at least 12 months, you may be eligible for Disability benefits, such as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

When uncontrolled, diabetes complications and health problems can prevent you from working. For some, uncontrolled diabetes can result in internal organ damage which can affect their mobility. Other people develop skin or nerve conditions that limit their activity levels or ability to use their hands.

If your diabetes is uncontrolled because you did not follow your doctor’s prescribed treatment plan (unless you have a good reason not doing so), the SSA may not consider you eligible for Disability benefits from either of these Social Security Disability programs.

Qualifying for Disability With Diabetes

To qualify for Disability benefits based on diabetes, you must have a disability evaluation and doctor diagnosis of having Type 1 or 2 diabetes and a related disabling condition that is listed in the SSA Blue Book, such as:

Or you must be able to prove that diabetes has impaired you so severely that you are unable to work.

Disability Benefits for Qualifying Diabetics

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, have a related health problem that is listed in the SSA Blue Book, and have been or will be disabled for at least 12 months, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). These monthly Disability benefits are available for qualified individuals who have worked for five of the last 10 years and meet the SSA definition of Disability.

Diabetics who have limited income and a diabetes-related condition that prevents them from work may qualify for Supplemental Security Income. If their SSI application is approved, they will receive a monthly assistance check from the Social Security Administration.

In North Carolina, if you qualify for SSI or SSDI, you automatically receive Medicaid, a health care program for people with low income.

A Social Security Disability Team That Knows How to Help Clients With Diabetes

If you have diabetes and questions about Social Security Disability benefits, give us a call at 1-866-900-7078. We have paralegals on our Social Security Disability team who have at least six years of experience as Disability Determination Services examiners for the Social Security Administration. We know how the SSA works, what it looks for to accept a claim, and what medical records to present for diabetes-related claims.

We have helped many diabetic clients with their Disability claims, and we want to help you, too.

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Additional FAQs about SSD Benefits for Diabetes

How Is Diabetes Diagnosed?

Diabetes is diagnosed by doing lab work and finding high levels of glucose in the blood stream. One useful test, called the A1C, measures and averages what your blood sugar level has been for the past 3 months.

Can People With Type 2 Diabetes Qualify for Disability Benefits?

If you have a diabetes-related condition that is listed in the SSA Blue Book, it does not matter whether you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. The SSA may find you disabled if your symptoms have prevented you from working full-time for at least one year.

How Long Do Disability Benefits for Diabetes Last?

Your SSDI benefits can last until you reach the age of 65, as long as your remain disabled and meet the SSDI eligibility requirements. After you turn 65, your SSDI benefits end, and your retirement benefits start. On the other hand, SSI benefits for diabetes can continue for as long as you meet the SSI eligibility requirements and remain disabled.

What Should You Do if You Don't Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits?

The majority of first-time Social Security Disability claims are, in fact, denied. If the SSA denies your SSD benefits claim, you can always start the process of appealing the decision. Consult with an experienced Social Security Disability attorney to review your case and explore if there is any new information that would make your claim stronger.

The first step in the appeals process is called “reconsideration,” and it involves a complete case review by someone in your local Disability Determination Services office who was not involved in the initial review and decision about your claim. This person will consider all the evidence and documentation you included in your initial claim, as well as any new evidence you can provide.

About the Author

Rick Fleming practices Social Security Disability law at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin. In addition to heading up the firm’s Social Security Disability Department, he is a North Carolina State Bar Board Certified Specialist in Social Security Disability Law and fluent in English and Spanish. Rick has received multiple Order of Service awards from the North Carolina Advocates for Justice, and he is an active board member of the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR). He currently holds the board-elected position of NOSSCR Treasurer, after completing a year serving as the organization’s Secretary.