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Keefe Disability Law
Social Security Disability & Supplemental Security Income
Toll Free 888-904-6847
Call 508-283-5500
Fax 508-309-6954

Can I Get Social Security Disability Benefits for Diabetes?

Diabetes refers to a group of illnesses that result from the body’s inability to effectively produce or use insulin. Diabetes is characterized by high blood glucose levels. Over time, high blood sugar levels can affect other bodily functions. Diabetes can affect the body’s ability to fight infections and can cause serious problems for the heart, kidneys, nerves, eyes, and feet. Whether your diabetes has been recently diagnosed or you’ve had it for years, the complications associated with this disease can make it difficult to get around and to take care of yourself, much less hold down a job.

Here is an explanation of the Social Security Administration (SSA)’s five-step process to determine whether a person with diabetes qualifies for Social Security disability benefits:

1.  Is the applicant working? If you are employed and earning more than $1,010 a month, your application likely will be denied, regardless of the severity of your diabetes.

2.  Is the diabetes disability severe enough to significantly limit the applicant’s ability to perform the basic work activities needed to do most jobs?

  • Does the diabetes affect the applicant’s ability to walk, stand, sit, reach, carry, lift, push, pull, or handle?
  • Does the diabetes affect the applicant’s speech, sight, or hearing?
  • Does the diabetes affect the applicant’s ability to follow directions or remember simple instructions?
  • Does the diabetes affect the applicant’s ability to respond to supervision, to co-workers, and to normal workplace situations?
  • Does the diabetes affect the applicant’s ability to respond to changes in the workplace?

If you can answer no to all of these questions, your application will be denied.

3. Is the diabetes severe enough to meet a medical listing? Until mid-2011, diabetes was listed as an impairment of the endocrine system, but the SSA restructured those listings in June of that year. Now you must be able to show that your diabetes is severe enough to meet a listing under a different body system.

4. Can the applicant do any type of work that he or she has done in the past, despite the diabetes-related limitations? If the SSA determines that you can still do any one of your past jobs, your application will be denied.

 5. Is there any work the applicant can do for pay given his or her age, education, and training, past work experience, and physical or mental limitations?

  • If you are younger than 50, are you able to lift 10 pounds at a time, sit for six hours, occasionally walk, and stand for two hours in an eight-hour workday?
  • If you are older than 50 and limited to sedentary work, do you have sedentary work experience?
  • If you are older than 55 and limited to light work, do you have skills that will allow you to get a job?
  • If you are older than 60, are you able to perform any job you held in the previous 15 years?

If you can answer yes to any of these questions, your application will be denied.

It is important to know that most Social Security denials are based on incorrectly filed paperwork or improper documentation of disability. If you have been denied SSDI or SSI for diabetes, you have the right to file an appeal. A Massachusetts disability attorney can help. To learn more, request a free copy of The Five Most Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Disability or contact Keefe Disability Law at 888-904-6847.


John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney of Keefe Disability Law

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