Social Security Disability and Diabetes

When determining whether or not a person is "disabled" under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, the Social Security Administration (SSA) looks at many factors, which are outlined in its "Blue Book." The Blue Book describes diabetes under Section 9.00, Endocrine Disorders.

Diabetes mellitus has two major categories. The first is Type 1 diabetes, previously referred to as juvenile diabetes, and is a deficiency of insulin production. In the second, Type 2 diabetes (adult onset diabetes), the body's cells resist insulin. The major distinction between the two is that Type 1 diabetes requires daily insulin, while Type 2 diabetes ordinarily can be controlled by changes in exercise, diet and occasionally insulin or other medication. Individuals with either type of diabetes can apply for Social Security disability benefits.

Whether a person will receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) for diabetes depends largely upon his or her ability to work. If he or she is physically capable of doing his or her previous work or any other work that someone similarly afflicted can do, the SSA will deny benefits. The SSA will also deny benefits if the person with diabetes makes more than $1,000 per month.

While Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes mellitus are usually controlled by lifestyle changes and insulin, some people may be unable to work due to hypoglycemia unawareness, other physical and mental disorders that impact diabetes, or inadequate treatment.

Applying for SSDI for Your Diabetes

Applying for SSDI is a multistep process. First, the initial application must be completed, along with a "detailed activities of daily living questionnaire." A doctor must verify the relevant medical information and confirm that the diabetes will last for at least a year. Only 35 percent of SSDI claims are approved at the initial application stage.

If you are denied SSDI benefits, the second step is to request a reconsideration within 60 days. Your medical and job information must be verified and updated, and a different person will consider your application. The process takes three to five months. Nearly 90 percent of first reconsiderations are denied.

If the SSA denies your first reconsideration, you may appeal that decision within 60 days to an Administrative Law Judge, who will hold a hearing and rule on the case. Almost two-thirds of administrative appeal decisions are in favor of the applicant.

If the decision is not in your favor, you can take the next step and ask for a review by the SSDI Appeals Council. If this is denied — which happens in 98 percent of the cases — the final step is to file suit in federal court.

More than 3 million people applied for SSDI benefits in 2010 (for diabetes as well as other medical conditions). Unfortunately, while many of these people have real illnesses that prevent them from working, only a small percentage of those with disabilities will qualify to receive benefits. Having an experienced Midwest SSDI attorney on your side can increase your chances of obtaining SSDI benefits for diabetes.

For more information about Social Security disability and diabetes, please see the SSA Blue Book, Section 9.00.