Do I Qualify For Social Security Disability Benefits If I Have Diabetes?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) doesn’t always make it easy for those with diabetes or its complications to get the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income benefits they deserve. Many claims are denied because SSA says:
(1) Your diabetes or its complications won’t prevent you from working at least 12 months,
(2) Your diabetes or its complications aren’t severe,
(3) Your diabetes is uncontrolled because you haven’t followed your physician’s prescribed treatment,
(4) Your diabetes complications don’t meet the requirements of, or is the equivalent of, a Medical Listing,
(5) You can return to the lightest job you held in the 15 years before you became disabled, or
(6) There is other work you can do in the mythical national economy based on your age, education, transferable skills and your residual functional capacity.
Not all cases of diabetes or its complications are severe enough to make you eligible for Social Security Disability benefits, but Nancy Cavey has successfully represented many SSA applicants with diabetes or its complications. She works to overcome the claims denial by working closely with you and your physician by showing that you:
- Meet the requirements for a disability listing for diabetes or its complications, or
- Proving that your limitations are too great for you to work at your old job or any other job in the national economy in view of your age, education and transferable work skills.
She offers a free initial consultation and welcomes the opportunity to speak with you about your Social Security disability claim.
What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes, also known as Diabetes Mellitus, is a hormonal disorder that affects the entire body. For energy, the cells of your body need a form of sugar called glucose, created when the body breaks down carbohydrates. The glucose circulates through your blood, and the hormone insulin allows the glucose to pass into your cell membranes.
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce any insulin; Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body doesn’t make enough insulin or when the body is unable to use the insulin the body has produced effectively.
As a result, glucose accumulates in the blood, commonly called “high blood sugar.”
Type 1 is the most severe form of diabetes. It can cause ketoacidosis. Your insulin level approaches zero, starving your cells of glucose. To compensate, the body releases ketones into the bloodstream, making your blood acidic. Ketoacidosis can result in mental confusion, vomiting, rapid and deep breathing, loss of consciousness, coma, even death.
What Are The Symptoms of Diabetes?
According to the American Diabetes Association, common symptoms include:
- Frequent urination,
- Feeling thirsty,
- Feeling hungry,
- Extreme fatigue,
- Blurry vision,
- Cuts or bruises that are slow to heal,
- Weight loss and gain and,
- Tingling, pain and numbness in the hands and/or feet.
These symptoms can make it difficult, if not impossible, to work.
What Are The Complications Of Diabetes?
More often than not, it’s the complications of diabetes that are the key to winning your claim. The six types of severe organ damage caused by diabetes include:
- Kidney disease (Nephropathy),
- Heart disease,
- Retinopathy and,
Diabetes can cause nerve damage called neuropathy, which can result in pain, tingling, weakness and numbness in your feet and legs. That can make it difficult to walk, stand and balance or even use your hands.
Kidney disease, known as nephropathy, can cause swelling in your feet and legs, weakness, fatigue, nausea, weight loss and disturbances in your sleep.
Coronary heart disease or peripheral artery disease can be caused by narrowing of your blood vessels. This can result in heart attack, stroke, slow healing of wounds and even amputation.
Diabetic retinopathy can cause blurring or even loss of vision.
Any one of these complications, in and of itself, can be disabling.
Diabetes or Diabetic Complications and The Listing Of Impairments
Diabetes is no longer included in the SSA’s “Listing of Impairments.” However if your complications from diabetes fall under or are equal to a listing, you might be approved for benefits at Step 3 of the Five-Step Sequential Evaluation.
Your medical records must establish that you meet every element of the Listing considered disabling. SSA will review your medical records and look for:
- Diabetic retinopathy (Listing 2.00)
- Diabetic nephropathy (Listing 6.06)
- Diabetic peripheral neuropathy (Listing 11.14)
- Cardiovascular problems, including coronary artery disease (Listing 4.04), chronic heart failure (Listing 4.02), peripheral vascular disease (Listing 12), and irregular heartbeat (Listing 4.05),
- Poorly healing skin and bacterial infections (Listing 8.04), and
- Amputation of an extremity (Listing 1.05).
If you have diabetes and another medical impairment, SSA is required to consider the combined effects of your impairments when determining if your condition is equal to a listing or when doing your RFC analysis at Steps 4 and 5.
If you don’t meet or equal a listing, SSA then will determine your entitlement to benefits based on medical and vocational criteria at Steps 4 and 5. Because the listing requirements are difficult to meet, SSA finds that most disability applicants don’t meet a Listing.
When Your Diabetes or Its Complications Make It Impossible to Work
If your Diabetes and its complications don’t meet a listing, you will have to prove that you:
- Can’t return to the lightest job you held in the 15 years before you became disabled (PRW), and
- There isn’t any other work you can do in the mythical national economy based on your age, education, transferable skills and your residual functional capacity (RFC).
SSA or, ultimately an Administrative Law Judge, will answer those questions by determining your residual functional capacity. Your RFC is what you can do despite your diabetes.
Residual Functional Capacity For Diabetes or Its Complications
The SSA will review your medical records at the Initial Application and Reconsideration stages of the claims process and determine your functional capacity to perform sedentary, light, medium and heavy work.
SSA medical consultants often opine that a Social Security Disability applicant can do light and sedentary work, and that will result in a claims denial. The lower your RFC the more likely that you can’t return to the lightest job you held in the last 15 years or perform other work. SSA doesn’t tell applicants or physicians about the existence and importance of properly completed RFC forms that explain:
- How far you can walk,
- How long you can stand and sit at one time and for an eight-hour work day,
- How much and how often you can lift, stoop, squat, bend during an eight-hour work day,
- Whether you have to alternate sitting and standing,
- Whether you have problems with balance because of lack of sensation in your feet,
- Whether you have problems with your feet that would make it difficult to operate machinery,
- Whether you have problems using your hands because of numbness and tingling in your fingers,
- Whether you have problems with your vision,
- Whether you have difficulty concentrating for long periods of time,
- Whether you have extreme fatigue,
- Whether you have good days and bad days and how many days per month you would miss from work, and
- Whether you have psychological problems, including depression or anxiety, that would interfere with your ability to work.
This is not an exhaustive list of all of the questions on a diabetes or other applicable RFC forms. But you can see that having an explanation of what you can do physically, cognitively and emotionally is key to winning your case.
Many SSA cases are lost because the applicant did not obtain an RFC or the right RFC form, or because their treating physician didn’t properly complete the RFC form. That is one of the many reasons you should have an experienced Social Security attorney like Nancy L. Cavey represent you in your claim.
How Your Residual Functional Capacity Is Used At A Social Security Hearing
Many claims for diabetes or its complications are denied both at the Initial Application and Request For Reconsideration stages of the claims process.
At the hearing stage, the Administrative Law Judge will determine your RFC and give hypotheticals to the vocational evaluator (VE) who will testify at your hearing. The judge will ask the VE to take into consideration your RFC, as determined by the judge, your age, education and prior work experience in determining:
- Whether you can return to the lightest job you held in the last 15 years,
- Whether there is other work you can do or could learn to do.
It is crucial that you are represented at a hearing to make sure the right questions are asked of the VE.
How Do I Get The Social Security Disability Benefits I Deserve For Diabetes or Its Complications?
Diabetes and its complications can interfere not only with your daily activities but with your ability to work. If you no longer can work or your doctor has told you to apply for Social Security disability, you should hire Nancy Cavey to help you:
- file your initial Social Security Disability application. The application process is confusing and designed so you make mistakes that can result in a delay or even a denial of your benefits;
- challenge a wrongful denial of your Social Security disability application or Request for Reconsideration;
- file a Request for Hearing and represent you at the hearing with the Administrative Law Judge who will decide if you get benefits. She will have your physician, if possible, complete the right RFC(s), prepare you for the hearing, prepare a hearing brief, and be prepared to cross-examine the VE.
The SSA is in the business of denying claims and will use any reason to deny your benefits. The odds of getting your Social Security benefits are greater when you are represented by experienced Social Security Disability attorney Nancy Cavey.
Contact Social Security Disability Attorney Nancy L. Cavey, Who Can Help You Regardless of Where You Live in Florida
Diabetes and its complications can make it difficult, if not impossible, to work. You owe it to yourself and your family to get help today! Ms. Cavey can explain the Five-Step Sequential Evaluation process used in every claim, the claims process and how to get your disability benefits. Call today for a free consultation at 727-894-3188.