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Is diabetes a disability for purposes of SSDI benefits?

On Behalf of | Mar 17, 2022 | Firm News |

Many Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes, both Type 1 and Type 2. Most cases can be well managed with proper medical supervision. In some cases, however, the diabetes can cause neuropathy in the lower extremities and in extreme cases, cause gangrene and the need for an amputation. Any of the later stages of this disease can lead to qualification for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease of the body’s endocrine system that results in a hormonal imbalance. Diabetes is caused by a malfunction of the pancreas, most particularly by an imbalance in insulin, a chemical that is essential to the body’s ability to absorb glucose from the blood stream and convert it into cellular energy. Type 1 diabetes usually begins in childhood and results in a life-long need to take daily doses of insulin. Type 2 diabetes usually begins in adulthood. In this variation, the body resists the effects of insulin, impairing both glucose absorption and metabolism. Both types of diabetes cause hyperglycemia, an abnormally high level of blood glucose that can produce acute and long-term complications.

When does diabetes cause a disability?

In order to be eligible for SSDI benefits, the applicant must demonstrate the existence of a disease that is either permanent or likely to cause death in 12 months. The disease must also prevent a person from engaging in substantial gainful activity. For 2022, substantial gainful activity is defined as the ability to earn at least $1,350 in one year.

Proving a disability

Proof of disability usually requires both medical and employment evidence. The evidence must prove the existence of diabetes and its affect on the applicant’s ability to work or perform substantial gainful activity.


Each SSI application is unique. A person suffering from diabetes may benefit from consulting an attorney with experience in handling SSDI claims for an evaluation of the medical and employment evidence and an opinion on the likelihood of recovering benefits.