Why It's Not "Just Diabetes"
More than 25 million Americans have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association, and an additional 79 million have prediabetes, which means at least some of the diagnostic criteria for diabetes have been met. Diabetes is one of the leading causes of death and chronic disability in this country.
Many people believe that diabetes is a minor medical condition that affects only individuals who are overweight or those who eat a poor diet. This is not true. Diabetes is a serious disease that is linked to both genetic and lifestyle factors.
In a person without diabetes, insulin in the blood carries sugars to cells throughout the body. These sugars are used to produce energy. A person with diabetes is unable to produce insulin naturally or cannot properly use the insulin the body produces, so the sugars stay in the blood, causing the high blood sugar levels that characterize diabetes.
Too much sugar in the blood can affect the body in many ways. For one, high blood sugar levels keep the blood vessels from dilating, leading to poor circulation. When there’s poor circulation, the nerves, especially those in the feet, don’t get enough blood and begin to lose function. As a result, a person with diabetes might not be able to feel foot injuries.
In addition, poor circulation can cause the skin to become fragile. Wounds take longer to heal and are more susceptible to infection. In people with diabetes, even minor wounds can ulcerate and become serious. It is not uncommon for people with diabetes to lose limbs because of complications stemming from poor circulation.
High blood sugar and poor circulation can also cause damage to the heart, kidneys, and eyes.
Because the Social Security Administration (SSA) removed endocrine disorders (which include diabetes) from its listing of impairments in June 2011, people with diabetes who wish to apply for disability benefits must now show that their disease has led to a complication that meets the requirements of a listing for a different body system—for example, peripheral neuropathy or loss of kidney function.
Do you have questions about applying for disability for a diabetes-related diagnosis? New England disability lawyer John Keefe has written a book to help you with the Social Security disability application process in Massachusetts. Request your free copy of 7 Costly Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Social Security Disability Claim, or contact Keefe Disability Law at 888-904-6847 to schedule a free consultation with a Social Security disability lawyer.