Diabetes and Social Security Disability (SSD) Benefits

DisabilityClaimBy Guest Blogger Molly Clarke
Diabetes is, unfortunately, becoming an increasingly common medical problem throughout the country. While some individuals who have diabetes can manage their condition and live a relatively normal lifestyle, other individuals have a more difficult time managing their diabetes and symptoms can drastically impede on physical abilities and safety.

In some cases, individuals with diabetes may find that they are no longer able to hold a job or earn a living. Without any income or access to health insurance, individuals with diabetes may suffer financially and medically. If you are facing these circumstances, you may want to consider applying for Social Security Disability benefits.

How Diabetes Can Qualify for SSD Assistance
A diabetes diagnosis alone will not get you approval for Social Security Disability benefits. To qualify, you must provide medical evidence that your diabetes symptoms have become so severe that, even with treatment, you are still unable to safely perform common workplace tasks.

To evaluate an individual’s eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits the SSA consults a guidebook of disabling conditions known as the blue book.  Although the blue book does not specifically mention diabetes, it does address many of the symptoms that people with diabetes often experience.  If you find yourself suffering from any of the following diabetes-related symptoms, you may be eligible for benefits.

  • Vision Loss – You may qualify if your diabetes has caused significant damage to your central or peripheral vision.
  • Kidney Failure – You may qualify for disability benefits if you need to undergo frequent dialysis treatments.
  • Nerve Damage – You may qualify if diabetes has led to nerve damage so significant that you find it difficult to walk, sit, carry, lift, stand, or use your hands to push, pull, or complete other common motions.
  • Cardiovascular Issues – You may qualify for disability benefits if your condition has led to heart disease, chronic heart failure, or other serious vascular problems.
  • Increased Vulnerability to Infections – You may qualify if diabetes has weakened your immune system to the point that you are experiencing chronic skin infections, persistent skin lesions, or infection problems that make it difficult for you to walk or utilize your hands. If your skin infections last longer than three months, with treatment, there is a good chance that you will qualify under this listing.
  • Amputation – Bacterial infections, and other complications related to diabetes, can lead to the need for an amputation. An amputation may qualify you for benefits as it significantly limits your mobility.

Demonstrating the Limitation Caused by Your Diabetes
While it is important to consider the specific listings in the Social Security Blue Book, it is more crucial to provide adequate evidence that your diabetes has made it difficult or impossible for you to continue to perform any work.

When applying for benefits, you will need to provide the Social Security Administration with medical records. These records should include documentation of treatments that you have undergone and the progression of your symptoms.

You should also ask your doctor or doctors to provide a written statement detailing the specific limitations that your condition is causing, as well as your expected prognosis. This information will help the Social Security Administration to determine whether or not you meet their definition of disabled.

What to Expect From the SSD Application Process
The process of applying for disability benefits is often recognized as being long and complicated. To speed the process up, prevent delays or denials, you should make sure you are thoroughly prepared prior to initiating the process. Including contacting your doctors for the necessary medical records, collect records of your work history and proof of income.

It is important to remember, that although applying for disability benefits may feel like a full-time job, once in place life will become more manageable. For further assistance visit the Social Security Disability Help Blog or contact Molly Clarke at mac@ssd-help.org.

Medical Disclaimer:
All the advice included in this blog is therapeutic in nature and should not be considered medical advice. Prior to making any changes to your diabetes maintenance program, please consult with your primary physician or endocrinologist.

Eliot LeBow, LCSW, CDE, is a diabetes-focused psychotherapist. His private practice, located in New York City and is also available via Skype. LeBow, who has been living with type 1 diabetes since 1977, treats the many diverse cognitive, behavioral, and emotional needs of people living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

For more information go to his website or Facebook Page or set up a free 30-minute phone consultation to see if talk therapy is right for you.

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