Can I Qualify for Disability Benefits with an Endocrine Disorder?
Today, approximately one in five Americans lives with a physical or mental disability. That number includes over one million people living with disabilities in Pennsylvania, and just under one million in New Jersey. Among them, thousands suffer from various endocrine disorders, including diabetes mellitus and various disorders of the pituitary gland, thyroid, and adrenal glands. If you’re been diagnosed with diabetes, hypoglycemia, or other medical issues related to the endocrine system, you may be able to qualify for monthly disability benefits through the Social Security Administration’s SSI and SSDI programs. How does the SSA evaluate these impairments?
Endocrine System Disorders
The endocrine system may not be as famous as other systems within the body, but its job is one of the most important. The endocrine system is responsible for the production and delivery of hormones throughout the body, and some of its major points include the:
- Adrenal Glands
- Pineal Gland
- Pituitary Gland
- Thyroid and Parathyroid
Which endocrine-related health problems can qualify you for disability, and what sort of criteria do SSA claims examiners use when reviewing SSI (Supplemental Security Income) and SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) applications?
Qualifying for Disability: General Requirements
Before we review the ways an endocrine problem can qualify you for benefits, let’s look at the more general requirements that the majority of applicants, with a few exceptions, should be able to pass.
To begin with, your health issue — whatever it may be — must meet a 12-month duration requirement, meaning your impairment should have either already lasted or be expected to last for at least 12 months, or be expected to end in death. Additionally, your issue must be classified as severely disabling. If your health problem is mild and does not significantly interfere with your employability, the SSA will not consider you to be truly “disabled” for SSI or SSDI purposes.
Finally, you must meet certain financial requirements. For single SSI claimants, the maximum permitted monthly income is $721. (Married couples may make up to $1,082 per month as of 2014.) If you are applying for SSI, which is need-based, you must have what the SSA deems “limited income” and “limited resources.” If you are applying for SSDI, which is based on previous payments into the social security system, you must have earned a sufficient number of work credits.
How You Qualify with an Endocrine Disorder
If you meet the general criteria, you will then evaluated based on your specific health impairment. But, needless to say, different illnesses come with different effects on the body. This means the SSA uses a document called the Listing of Impairments (also known as the “Blue Book”) to determine whether or not a given disability is “severe.” However, if your disability fails to equal the often very rigorous and specific criteria given by the Listing, you may still be able to qualify with a medical-vocational allowance, which rates your “residual functional capacity,” including standing, lifting, concentrating, and other tasks.
Under Section 9.00 of the Listing, all of the following may be considered for disability:
- Pituitary Gland Disorders: B1
- Thyroid Gland Disorders: B2
- Parathyroid Gland Disorders: B3
- Adrenal Gland Disorders: B4
- Diabetes Mellitus, Pancreatic Gland Disorders: B5
- Hyperglycemia: B5a
- Hypoglycemia: B5b
These conditions tend to lead to other conditions, which are then evaluated under their respective Listing sections. For example, in Section B5b (hypoglycemia), the Listing states:
Severe hypoglycemia can lead to complications, including seizures or loss of consciousness, which we evaluate under 11.00, or altered mental status and cognitive deficits, which we evaluate under 12.00.
Diabetes, the most well-known endocrine disorder, charts a similar course through the evaluation process. For example, diabetes (more specifically, diabetic ketoacidosis or chronic hyperglycemia) can lead to:
- Cardiac Arrhythmias (Irregular Heartbeat): Section 4.00
- Intestinal Necrosis: 5.00
- Seizures: 11.00
- Diabetic Retinopathy: 2.00
- Fungal Skin Infections: 8.00
You can read the unabridged official text of the adult endocrine listings here.
If you or someone you love has a medical problem like diabetes or a thyroid disorder, you may be a strong candidate for monthly SSI or SSDI benefits. To schedule your completely free and confidential legal consultation with an experienced disability lawyer, call the law offices of Young, Marr & Associates at (609) 755-3115 in New Jersey or (215) 701-6519 in Pennsylvania, or contact us online today.