Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is for people who have become disabled for any reason. If you have disabilities related to diabetes, you may be eligible for SSDI.
What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes, Type I and Type II, is a condition created by a failing pancreas. Your pancreas secretes different hormones and enzymes that keep your body operating correctly. One of these hormones is insulin. Insulin is the tool that helps you process carbohydrates, fueling your body.
When you eat something, it breaks down into simple sugars that are released into your bloodstream. Your pancreas regularly checks how much sugar is in your blood. When your sugar levels rise, your pancreas releases insulin. Insulin opens the body’s cells to receive the sugar, which then supplies the body with energy.
In diabetics, the pancreas produces insufficient insulin or no insulin at all. Type I diabetics have an autoimmune deficiency. For reasons still unknown, the immune system begins to attack the pancreas, which causes the insulin output to die. In Type II patients, other health conditions overwork the pancreas, which leads to a decreased output of necessary insulin. This often happens with patients who are also suffering from obesity.
With insufficient insulin in the bloodstream, the sugars from your food begin to collect in the blood. Insulin is not moving it into the cells. This has two different effects. On one hand, you are not being properly fueled, as your cells are not receiving “food” from the sugars. The other problem is that sugar left floating in your bloodstream becomes acidic. Overly acidic blood can lead to ketoacidosis. This is an immediate problem that needs to be handled quickly. Left untreated, the patient can become very ill or even die.
Diabetes is a manageable disease. Through proper diet and exercise, a diabetic can keep their blood sugar at a manageable level. This is not to say that people with diabetic complications are responsible for their illnesses. Diabetes is a sneaky disease. All diabetics experience highs and lows in their blood sugar. Even mostly under control, diabetes has a degenerative effect. High, acidic levels of sugar begin to gradually eat at parts of the body, causing a variety of problems.
Complications from Diabetes
Diabetes is a disease that creates many comorbidities. A comorbidity is a health problem that is created by a preexisting health problem. To see this cycle in action, imagine a Type II diabetic. They had one health problem that led to diabetes; their diabetes leads to heart problems; their heart problems lead to circulation issues; etc. Comorbidities are difficult to manage. They must be treated as separate problems, but they are often tied to their original cause.
With its degenerative effects, diabetes can harm the skin, nerves, and organs. It can even affect your mood as your biochemistry is imbalanced.
Here are some disabling comorbidities you can develop from diabetes:
- Nerve Damage
- Neuropathy, a numbness or malfunctioning of the extremities. At its most severe, it can affect the mobility or use of limbs.
- Retinopathy, where the nerves in the eyes are affected. This can lead to vision problems, including blindness.
- Gastroparesis, where the nerves controlling digestion have degenerated.
- Organ Damage
- Kidney disease, or nephropathy
- High blood pressure, or hypertension
- Heart disease
- Circulation issues reducing blood flow to the limbs, or peripheral arterial disease
Social Security Disability Insurance is a program designed for people who have been debilitated. It could be the result of any injury or illness, including diabetes.
To collect SSDI, you must have a history of contributing to Social Security through working. You may have a job, but your income must be very low. You must make $1,310 a month or less to qualify.
Your disability must be considered “severe” to receive benefits. Severity can be defined by an inability to work. For example, your nerve injury may have left you unable to walk or see. Depending on your job skills and work history, this could seriously impede your ability to hold a job. To be eligible for SSDI, your disability must have inhibited your work for at least 12 months.
However, not every diabetic who meets these criteria may be eligible for SSDI. There is an exception.
Failure to Comply Exclusion
Diabetes is a slow-working disease that is treatable and manageable. To qualify for SSDI, you must show that you sought medical treatment for your disease. If you cannot produce evidence that you have had regular treatment, you may be denied.
You must also show that you complied with your doctor’s recommendations. It is not enough to have a paper trail that says you’ve seen the doctor. Diabetics should have an endocrinologist that they see regularly. At their doctor visits, they must show the results of their treatment, which helps the doctor decide how to move forward. Often, doctors will suggest dietary changes and alter the amount of insulin patients take. This is an attempt to keep the disease manageable and stave off comorbidities. If you cannot prove that you have worked with your doctor to regulate your blood sugar, you could be denied your SSDI benefits.
What If I Am Denied?
If you have been denied SSDI for diabetes, speak to an attorney. There may be ways to fight the decision. If not, there are other options available to you, and a legal professional can help you find and use those choices.