How Your Diabetes and Social Security Disability Benefits are Related


SSDI Benefits for People With Diabetes


Obtaining Social Security Disability (“SSDI”) benefits is a complicated and confusing process. As we wrote about not too long ago, it is not as simple as completing an application claiming that you cannot work. It is important to understand the process and, to do that, you are going to need experienced SSDI attorneys like the ones at Krasno, Krasno & Onwudinjo.


SSDI is Available for Diabetes and Related Conditions


Diabetes is an epidemic in the United States. According to the American Diabetes Association (“ADA”), in 2015, 30.3 million Americans, or 9.4% of the population, had diabetes. Diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the United States in 2015 and was listed specifically as the cause of death on 79,535 death certificates. Diabetes was mentioned as contributing to the cause of death in a total of 252,806 death certificates that year.


The ADA estimates that in 2013, the total cost to the United States from diabetes was $245 billion: $176 billion for direct medical costs and $69 billion in reduced productivity.


If your diabetes or related conditions are debilitating and preventing you from working, SSDI benefits may be available. SSDI covers every worker in Pennsylvania if they have a disability or illness that prevents them from supporting themselves.


The SSDI Application Process


To apply for SSDI for diabetes-related inability to work, you and your attorney must complete a disability application and disability report. The application provides necessary identifying information related to your diabetes and how that prevents you from working.


The disability report provides detailed information on your past and current medical condition, including the onset of your diabetes, whether it is Type I or Type II, whether the diabetes has led to complications, etc. Both forms must provide complete and accurate information to even begin the SSDI application process.  


What the Social Security Administration Does


In general, the Social Security Administration uses the so-called Sequential Evaluation Process (“SEP”) to determine if you or anyone else is eligible for SSDI benefits. Step 1 asks whether you are currently working and making money above a certain level. If you are, then you are NOT eligible for SSDI benefits for diabetes or anything else. SSDI is for Pennsylvania workers who are not able to work.


Step 2 is to determine if your medical condition is “severe.” The Social Security Administration has created what they call the Listing of Impairments (“LOI”). As described by the Social Security Administration, “[t]he Listing of Impairments describes, for each major body system, impairments considered severe enough to prevent an individual from doing any gainful activity.” SSDI Bluebook, Listing of Impairments.


The LOI is numbered ordinally with impairments ranked from 1.00 to 12.00 as most severe to the least severe. Diabetes is listed at 9.08 under endocrine disorders for adults. See Sec. B5. So, as you can see, diabetes is seen to be at the less severe end of the spectrum.


However, some forms of diabetes are more severe than others. For example, diabetic peripheral neurovascular disease (“DPND”) is evaluated under 1.00 because DPND causes gangrene and subsequent amputation of legs and arms. On the other hand, cognitive impairments such as depression and anxiety are evaluated under 12.00.


From the above, you can see the importance of your disability report. Your disability report will show what specific type of diabetes you have and the specific related conditions from which you suffer. This allows you and your attorney to “aim” at the proper LOI.


At Step 3, the Social Security Administration asks the question of how your medical condition reduces your ability to work. Sometimes this evaluation is relatively easy. Again, using DPND as our example, if your diabetes is resulting in gangrene and amputation of limbs, you are not able to work. In addition, sometimes, SSDI benefits can be awarded at Step 3 because a person has a combination of diabetes-related impairments that combine to create sufficient severity. For example, neuropathy combined with low-blood-pressure or dizziness coupled with arterial disease and/or an enlarged pulmonary organ, etc., might be sufficient at Step 3.


However, for less severe conditions related to diabetes, the Social Security Administration moves on to Step 4, which begins with evaluating what they call your residual functional capacity (“RFC”). Your RFC is the work you can still do, despite your diabetes. Your RFC is used at both Steps 4 and 5.


At Step 4, the Social Security Administration takes your RFC and performs a PRW evaluation. This is a function-by-function comparison of your RFC and the work you have done in the past (your “past relevant work” or PRW). If your diabetes does not prevent you from performing your PRW, you are not eligible for SSDI benefits. As a somewhat humorous example, let’s say you worked as a magazine reviewer of bakeries — and ice cream shops! — in Philadelphia. Your job required you to eat cakes and doughnuts every day. That would be your PRW. Now, with the onset of diabetes, obviously you can no longer perform your PRW.


However, the inquiry does not end there. If your diabetes prevents you from performing your PRW, then the Social Security Administration moves to Step 5, which evaluates if you can perform “other work.” In our humorous example, you — a writer for a magazine — can still write on other topics without having to taste-test the sweets. So, likely you will be denied SSDI benefits.


On the other hand, if there is no other work you can perform, then under Step 5, you will be deemed to be disabled and will obtain benefits.  


In Summary: Yes, You Can Obtain SSDI Benefits if You Have Diabetes


As you can see, obtaining SSDI benefits is complicated and confusing. The bottom line is that, yes, you can obtain SSDI benefits if you have diabetes and/or diabetes-related medical conditions and you are unable to work, but you are going to need an SSDI attorney to help you apply for the benefits you deserve.


Krasno, Krasno & Onwudinjo Can Help


An experienced SSDI lawyer from Krasno, Krasno & Onwudinjo can help. Krasno, Krasno & Onwudinjo is a leading Pennsylvania SSDI law firm. We have three generations of lawyers who have been helping workers and the disabled obtain the benefits to which they are entitled. Do not delay since you cannot begin receiving benefits until you apply. Contact our legal team today at (877) 299-0779.

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