Lansing disability attorney explains how the Social Security Administration evaluates a claim for benefits based on diabetes
As a Lansing disability lawyer, I have helped many people with diabetes in their efforts to obtain Social Security disability benefits. In order to be awarded disability benefits based on your diabetes, you must prove either:
- Your condition “meets or medically equals” the description of diabetes found in the Social Security Listing of Impairments; or
- Your condition is so severe that it prevents you from engaging in any type of substantial gainful employment.
Meeting the Listing for diabetes mellitus
Only the most severe cases of diabetes mellitus will qualify for benefits under the Listings. To meet the Listing criteria, you must have one of the following:
- Retinitis proliferans (a disease of the retina), with significant vision loss; or
- Acidosis (a serious disturbance in blood chemistry usually requiring hospitalization) that occurs, on average, every two months; or
- Neuropathy (nerve damage) in two extremities, so severe that it impairs your ability to stand, walk and move.
If your condition is not severe enough to meet the Listing criteria, you may still qualify for Social Security disability benefits if you can establish that your condition “medically equals” the Listing criteria. If, for example, you suffer from complications of diabetes (e.g., stroke, heart disease, kidney failure, foot ulcers), this combination of impairments may be severe enough to qualify you as disabled under the Listings.
Proving the disabling impact of your diabetes on your ability to work
If your diabetes does not meet or equal the Listing requirements, then, in order to prevail on your disability benefits claim, you will have to prove that your condition is so severe that it prevents you from doing the work you have done in the past and prevents you from doing any other type of work that is generally available in the economy. In making this disability determination, the Social Security decision-maker will take into account your age, education, work experience and “residual functional capacity” (i.e., your ability to perform basic work-related functions despite the limitations caused by your impairment).
Your testimony at your disability hearing can be some of the strongest evidence in your favor if you are able to provide detailed examples of how the symptoms of your diabetes impact your daily life. Diabetes mellitus is a major cause of disability because it affects the entire body and is associated with a number of serious complications and disabling symptoms. For example, all of the following symptoms are commonly associated with diabetes: headaches; dizziness; blurred vision; leg cramps; excessive thirst; abdominal pain; sensitivity to light, heat, and cold; fatigue; and difficulty thinking and concentrating. Use a symptom diary (e.g., a journal, a calendar, a spreadsheet) to keep track of all your symptoms. This will give you a written record of the impact of your symptoms over time, which you can refer to as you prepare for your hearing.
If you are living with diabetes, and you are contemplating filing for Social Security disability benefits, or already have filed and had your claim denied, I may be able to help you gather the evidence you need to win your claim. If you would like me to review your case, please give me a brief description of your situation using the Free Claim Evaluation form on this page, or call or email me directly.