Qualifying for Disability Benefits (SSDI) with Diabetes in Pennsylvania
On an annual basis, millions and millions of Americans across the United States will receive hundreds or thousands of dollars in monthly benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). In 2013, the SSA reported expenditures exceeding $800 billion spent across approximately 58 million people. Among these 58 million, 8.9 million (roughly 15.3%) were classified as disabled workers. On average, these individuals received monthly benefits of $1,129. These monthly payments help millions of Americans and thousands of Pennsylvanians cover their costs of living, such as payments toward housing, groceries, and utility bills.
Unfortunately, it is notoriously difficult to qualify to receive disability benefits. In the interest of minimizing social security fraud, the SSA has imposed very particular qualifications which claimants must meet if they wish to be approved for disability in Pennsylvania.
One of the most basic qualifications is the very presence of a disability. While that may sound almost too simple to merit mentioning, the SSA follows its own standards in determining disability. This means that while you and your physician may assert that you are disabled, the SSA may say that you are not. To help applicants gauge their eligibility for approval, our experienced social security disability attorneys answer the question: can I qualify for benefits with diabetes?
National Diabetes Statistics
Diabetes occurs when the body cannot make enough insulin to properly process glucose (sugar). Diabetes may appear very early in life, or may take decades to appear, commonly referred to as adult-onset diabetes. Diabetes is divided into two categories:
- Type I Diabetes
- Type II Diabetes
Type I diabetes means that the immune system actually destroys the cells which release insulin. The end effect is that the body cannot produce any insulin, and therefore, it becomes necessary to administer insulin shots to compensate for the natural deficit. Type I diabetes appears early in life, and is sometimes called juvenile-onset diabetes as a result. Type I diabetes cannot be cured.
Type II diabetes is far more prevalent than Type I diabetes, and can appear at any time in life. In Type II diabetes, also known as adult-onset, the body can still create insulin, but cannot use it properly. This phenomenon is referred to as insulin resistance. Type II diabetes can be managed through diet and exercise.
According to American Diabetes Association (ADA) data from 2013, roughly 26 million Americans — almost one in 10 — are living with some form of diabetes, including more than 25% of senior citizens.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health reports that in 2011, roughly 878,000 Pennsylvanians (9% of the state population) were living with diabetes.
Does the SSA Count Diabetes as a Disability?
The SSA maintains an official Listing of Impairments for both adults and children. As its title suggests, the Listing of Impairments is a compilation of which conditions the SSA considers eligible for disability status.
Under Section 9.00, Endocrine Disorders, you may be able to qualify for disability benefits with diabetes. Under Section 9.00B:
“Both type 1 and type 2 DM (Diabetes Mellitus) are chronic disorders that can have serious disabling complications that meet the duration requirement.”
However, this is subject to several conditions:
- Your diabetes must have lasted or be expected to last for a minimum of 12 months.
- Your diabetes must be considered severe enough to prevent you from working, whether at your old job or in a new position.
Diabetes can cause numerous additional health issues which may be disabling. For example, diabetes can cause nerve damage which may necessitate the amputation of toes, a foot, or a lower leg on one or both sides of the body. Diabetes can also cause reduced visual acuity, kidney failure which may require treatment with dialysis, or chronic and severe cardiovascular problems.
Diabetes-related health issues which the SSA may consider disabilities include:
- Amputation (toes, feet, legs)
- Bacterial Infections (chronic skin infections)
- Cardiovascular Issues (coronary disease, heart failure)
- Diabetic Nephropathy (dialysis and kidney damage)
- Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathies (nerve damage)
- Diabetic Retinopathy (vision loss)
- Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar)
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
These conditions must be demonstrated to be severe enough to hinder an individual’s ability to independently generate an income. To use vision loss as an example, the SSA uses numerous tests and equations to gauge whether the damage to a claimant’s eyesight “passes” the disability threshold. Once again: while your doctor may submit that you are disabled, your disability may not be considered severe enough by the SSA unless you are able to meet their condition-specific requirements.
Call Our Pennsylvania Disability Attorneys Today
Being approved for disability benefits is extremely challenging, but a seasoned disability benefits attorney from Young, Marr & Associates can help. For a free and confidential case evaluation with one of our disability lawyers, call right away at (215) 701-6519 in Pennsylvania. You can also contact us online for your free, confidential case evaluation.