Many people with chronic illnesses often wonder if they are eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). SSDI is a way of getting financial support if you’ve become disabled. A chronic illness, by itself, is not enough to earn these benefits.
Diabetes is a chronic condition that requires close monitoring and continued management. Unlike many chronic conditions, it is not always something that springs up suddenly, making someone ill. Even when a diabetic’s blood sugar drops and they start to “crash,” this is the result of their medication, not the disease itself.
Diabetes is degenerative, causing damage over long periods of time. People with diabetes can sometimes be unaware that they’ve even sustained damage, as the process is so gradual.
If you have suffered the debilitating effects of diabetes, you may be eligible to receive SSDI. There are, however, exceptions, even for those who’ve become disabled. In this article, we will discuss how the disease can cause permanent disability, and we will explore how these disabilities relate to receiving SSDI.
How Can Diabetes Cause a Disability?
Diabetes is a complex disease. Within the body lies the pancreas. This organ has many functions, one of which is releasing insulin. For Type I and Type II diabetics, their bodies no longer produce a sufficient amount of insulin. Type I’s may not have any insulin at all.
Insulin is the hormone the pulls sugar from your bloodstream into your cells. Most everything we eat breaks down into sugars, from candy to fruit to bread. These sugars feed your cells, fueling your body. A functioning pancreas regularly tests the sugar content of the bloodstream. When there is too much sugar, the pancreas releases insulin. The insulin opens the cells, allowing them to take in the sugar, empowering the body to function.
Since a diabetic’s pancreas no longer functions properly, it does not release insulin into the bloodstream. Insulin, then, must be added artificially. For a Type I diabetic, this often means injecting insulin directly into fatty tissue. Many Type II’s take pills that either release insulin into the body, help the pancreas produce insulin as needed, or both. From there, it’s all a game of numbers. If the diabetic gets their insulin to carbohydrate ratio correct, their blood sugar levels should be within normal range. If they took too much insulin, they could crash, and too little insulin produces high blood sugar levels.
When left in the bloodstream for too long, sugar becomes dangerous. Floating around with nowhere to go, it becomes acidic. Over time, a diabetic with consistently high blood sugar can develop comorbidities.
Comorbidities Caused by Diabetes
When one disease causes another issue, that second problem is a “comorbidity.” For example, a paralyzed person could develop bedsores from their lack of movement. Comorbidities are difficult to treat. On one hand, they are a separate issue, and they must be treated as such. On the other, the problem will get only worse if the original issue is unresolved.
The acidic quality of high blood sugar can gradually eat through a diabetic’s nerve endings. Nerve endings serve highly important bodily functions. They are also very small and vulnerable. Once they begin burning away, many comorbidities can result.
One such problem is neuropathy, a malfunctioning or numbness in the extremities. Neuropathy can affect your ability to feel. If a diabetic loses sensation in their feet, for instance, they become vulnerable to injuries. They could step on a nail, never feel it, and begin suffering from infections.
Diabetics could also experience retinopathy, affecting the nerves in their eyes. Permanent vision problems can occur, including blindness.
Nerve damage can also lead to gastroparesis, creating digestive issues. In such cases, the stomach may find it difficult to empty food into the lower digestive tracts.
Continually high blood sugar levels can also affect organs. This could be the result of nerve damage, or the organ itself could be damaged by high acidity in the bloodstream.
Organs damaged by diabetes could lead to:
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
- High blood pressure
- Circulation problems that reduce blood flow to the limbs
SSDI Eligibility for Diabetics
If diabetes has left you disabled, you may qualify for SSDI benefits. You must meet other qualifications, as well.
First, your disability must be “severe.” It affects your ability to work or retain a job. Perhaps it caused you to lose which you are no longer able to do. A diabetic who develops vision problems, for instance, may not be able to continue office work.
Next, your disability must have impeded your work for at least one year. Twelve months is a long time to wait before receiving your benefits. If you are in dire need now, talk to an attorney. They may be able to help direct you to other programs that can assist you today.
Also, you must have a history of contributing to Social Security through prior employment. Essentially, you can’t get anything out of it if you haven’t put anything into it.
You may still be employed and collect SSDI. However, your income must be very low. Currently, you cannot collect SSDI if you make over $1,310 a month.
What Makes a Diabetic Ineligible for SSDI?
Not everyone who has suffered a diabetes-related disability will qualify. Social Security is a government-run program, but it can sometimes function like a private insurance company. It wants to ensure that you qualify for benefits, and it can use any excuse to deny you.
First, you must show that you closely followed your treatment. For many, diabetes is a manageable disease, as long as you work with your doctor. Often, your endocrinologist will adjust insulin dosages to help regulate your sugar levels. They may even prescribe a diet and exercise program or classes to help you.
For some, diabetes is difficult to manage regardless of their behavior. They simply don’t respond to the proper treatments. Others, however, squander their opportunity to take care of themselves, leading to deleterious results. If Social Security believes you did not follow your doctor’s orders, they can deny your benefits.
What Should I Do If I’ve Been Denied?
Contact an attorney immediately. They can help appeal the decision and help get you the benefits you need. If you are still denied, a skilled lawyer may be able to find other programs designed to financially benefit the disabled.
If you need help receiving SSDI, or if you’ve been denied, contact our firm today. We can give you a free consultation, and we may be able to help. Our number is (937) 403-9033, and you can contact us online.