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Disability for Diabetes: How to Qualify

Riddle Brantley LLP   |  May 26, 2020   |  

We often hear the question, “Can I get disability for diabetes?” Having diabetes and difficulty working as a result may qualify you for Social Security disability, but there are some things you should know before filing a disability claim.

In this blog posts, our North Carolina disability attorneys tackle some of the most common questions about disability for diabetes, and what you need to know about filing a disability claim for diabetes.

Diabetes in America

Type II diabetes has become a significant national public health issue. Statistics tell us that just over 10% of the U.S. population is diabetic, and the vast majority of those (90 to 95%) have Type II diabetes, sometimes called “adult onset” diabetes. Type I, on the other hand, is often called “childhood onset” diabetes because it is normally diagnosed in childhood and is not related to obesity.

The damaging health effects of diabetes can range from mildly annoying (and controllable with lifestyle changes and oral medication) to life-threatening, requiring daily insulin injections and other medical interventions including amputation of limbs.

“Can I get disability for diabetes?”

If you are diabetic, and your diabetes has not responded to lifestyle changes or medication and has progressed to the point of seriously interfering with your life, you may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. Your odds of success depend on how far the disease has progressed and how seriously it affects your ability to do the kinds of day-to-day activities it takes to hold down a job.

Disability for Diabetes - How to Qualify - Riddle & BrantleyIMPORTANT: Diabetes in and of itself is no longer considered a disabling condition by the SSA. However, diabetes can lead to other conditions – kidney failure, nerve damage, vision problems, skin infections, heart disease, peripheral artery disease, and others – which can meet the SSA’s definition of “disability.”

In other words, if you’re seeking disability for diabetes, you will first need to prove to the SSA that your diabetes has resulted in other conditions that “significantly interfere” with your ability to work.

In another blog post, we talked about the two ways a person can meet the SSA’s requirements to show they are disabled, specifically, by:

(1) meeting a “Listing,” or

(2) showing a significantly impaired Residual Functional Capacity

Meeting a Listing

The SSA maintains a list of certain conditions (the “Listings”) considered to be so severe that no one who has them could work a full-time job. There are many categories of Listings for many different medical diagnoses.

While diabetes is not currently a “Listing” for disability benefits under the SSA’s definition, some Listings pertain to conditions often associated with Type II diabetes, like:

  • Listings in group 1.00 include the amputation of a limb. Some people with chronic diabetes eventually lose part or all of one or both feet due to nerve damage, poor circulation, and chronic infections. There are other symptoms and conditions required to be proved to meet this Listing (specifically, Listing 1.05), but some people in this category as a result of their diabetes-related amputations have been found to meet it and may qualify for disability for diabetes-related conditions.
  • Listing in group 2.00 include vision impairments. Some diabetics develop blurred vision or poor eyesight as a result of bleeding inside the eyeball. If your vision is bad enough in both eyes that it meets these specific criteria of this Listing, you may qualify for disability benefits for your diabetes-related condition.
  • Listings in group 4.00 include heart and circulatory problems. Diabetes often leads to organ damage that can fall into this category. If your diabetes has resulted in conditions like coronary artery disease, peripheral vascular disease, or certain other heart problems, you may meet one of these Listings and qualify for disability benefits.
  • Listing in group 6.00 include kidney failure. Some diabetics develop kidney disease due to their illness. If your kidney disease has progressed to the point where you require ongoing dialysis or you meet certain other specific criteria, you may meet this Listing and qualify for benefits.
  • Listings in group 8.00 include certain skin problems and infections. If your diabetes has resulted in chronic ulcerating lesions that will not go away and that prevent you from walking normally and/or using your hands in a way required to do work, you may meet this Listing and be entitled to benefits for diabetes-related disability.
  • Listings in group 11.00 include a nerve condition commonly called “peripheral neuropathy.” Significant numbers of diabetics end up with nerve damage in their extremities. If that damage is severe enough to impair your ability to use your hands, feet or legs, you could be found to meet this Listing and be entitled to benefits.

Disability Benefits for Diabetes - Riddle & BrantleyThere is no guarantee that you will receive disability benefits for diabetes (or at least, disability for a diabetes-related condition). However, a disability lawyer can help improve your chances of approval.

For a free consultation with a North Carolina disability lawyer who can review your claim and advise on your best options for seeking benefits, please call 1-800-525-7111 today.

Meeting the “Listing” Criteria

Listings are very specific; you must not only have at least one of these diagnoses, but also have specific test results or laboratory findings meeting very strict definitions. The tests for meeting a Listing are so tough to pass that most people cannot meet them.

If this is the case for you, then the second way of proving disability for diabetes-related conditions – proving a reduced Residual Functional Capacity – is your only alternative.

Proving Reduced “Residual Functional Capacity”

This second route – inability to work because of a significantly limited Residual Functional Capacity – is less specifically defined, but still a viable way to win your case.

The key is to have the support of your doctor(s) — preferably an endocrinologist — backed up by written statements from friends and family, that you are severely limited in your day-to-day activities.

If your diabetes has progressed to the point of being severely limiting, but not in any one specific way severe enough to meet a Listing, you can still win your case by showing that, in view of ALL your limitations, you cannot do the kinds of things it takes to hold down even a simple, easy job. This would include things like moving about, taking care of your personal needs, interacting appropriately with other people, and maintaining good attendance at work.

Finally, be aware that if your diabetes is uncontrolled because you haven’t done what your doctors have told you to do, you most likely will not qualify for benefits. Compliance with treatment orders is one factor the SSA reviews in determining a person’s eligibility.

The Bottom Line: Disability for Diabetes

If you have diabetes (either Type I or Type II) and are seeking disability benefits from the Social Security Administration, here’s what’s most important to know:

The bottom line is that you cannot get disability benefits for diabetes, per se… HOWEVER, you can get disability for certain diabetes-related conditions.

“Diabetes is no longer a ‘Listing’ for disability benefits, but certain other diabetes-related conditions may qualify you for disability.”

Scott Scurfield, lead Riddle & Brantley disability attorney and Board-Certified Specialist

NC Disability Lawyer - Free ConsultationIf you suffer from diabetes and are unable to work due to a related condition, you may qualify for disability benefits and our North Carolina disability lawyers would love to help.

We serve clients throughout the state, including in Raleigh, Durham, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Fayetteville, Goldsboro, Greenville, Kinston and Jacksonville, and would love to help however we can.

For a FREE, no-obligation consultation with an NC disability attorney at Riddle & Brantley, please call 1-800-525-7111 today.

Remember, there is no cost for the consultation and you won’t pay any attorney fees unless we win your case and you receive Social Security disability for a condition related to diabetes.

“I would recommend Riddle & Brantley to anyone who needs help with disability.”

B. Fields, Riddle & Brantley client

Call 1-800-525-7111 today and let’s review your claim.

Justice Counts for North Carolinians with disabilities and we would love to help however we can.