Diabetes mellitus is an endocrine gland disorder affecting the production of insulin. It can be a debilitating and devastating impairment, as the overall risk of dying among people with diabetes is at least double the risk of their peers without diabetes worldwide. Yet a mere diagnosis of diabetes does not necessarily equate with a finding of disability under the Social Security Act, and every day thousands of workers engage in substantial gainful activity despite a diagnosis of diabetes mellitus.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the hemoglobin A1c test is the primary test used for diabetes management and research. It is a blood test that provides information about the person’s average levels of blood sugar. A normal A1c level is below 5.7 percent. A score of 6.5 percent or higher typically indicates diabetes. To evaluate the severity of diabetes, Social Security Administration first looks to Listing 9.00, which refers to other listings depending on how diabetes mellitus affects your body.
Whereas insulin regulates the body’s absorption of blood sugars, poor production of insulin may result in uncontrolled blood sugars affecting the body with hyperglycemia (high levels of blood sugar) or hypoglycemia (low levels of blood sugar). Dangerously high blood sugars (diabetic ketoacidosis) could cause serious complications to your heart, intestines, or nervous system. Consider Listings 4.00, 5.00 and/or 11.00 for physical complications resulting from diabetic ketoacidosis. By contrast, hypoglycemia can result in seizures and loss of consciousness, also evaluated under Listing 11.00, or altered mental status and cognitive defects, evaluated under Listing 12.00.
If your condition does not meet or equal the criteria of any Listing of Impairments, Social Security will proceed to the fourth and, if necessary, fifth steps in sequential evaluation.