If you or someone you love has severe complications from diabetes and can no longer work, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. These resources offered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) can be used to pay for your living expenses, medical bills, childcare and more. While a diabetes diagnosis alone will not qualify for benefits, there are still ways to get approved for financial aid for you and your family.
Medical qualifications via the Blue Book
The SSA maintains its own medical guidelines of criteria needed to qualify for disability benefits, known colloquially as the “Blue Book.” There is not a listing for diabetes in the Blue Book, but there are many listings for conditions that often come along with diabetes that’s not controlled by medication. You may be able to qualify under one of the following conditions’ listings:
You may qualify for disability if you’ve lost both hands or are unable to walk due to a lower limb amputation.
Kidney disease is a complicated listing, but if your kidney function is below specific levels you may be eligible.
Many skin conditions qualify for disability if they’ve persisted for at least three months despite following treatment plans.
If your vision is worse than 20/200, you may be eligible.
Arrhythmias, heart failure and other common heart problems are all eligible for disability benefits.
Each of the above listing has its own symptoms or test results that need to be met in order to qualify. The more complications you have from diabetes, the better your chances of approval. The entire Blue Book can be viewed online, so you can go over listings you may qualify with your doctor.
Medical-vocational allowances and Social Security benefits
If you do not meet any Blue Book listings for common diabetes complications, you may still be eligible for benefits if you’re unable to work. This type of approval is known as a “medical-vocational allowance.” What’s most important about a medical-vocational allowance is proving that your unique symptoms prevent you from performing any work that you’ve done in the past/are qualified for.
This means that older adults and those without a college degree will have better odds of approval via a medical-vocational allowance. Additionally, you’ll have a better chance of qualifying if you’ve only had physically demanding jobs, such as working in construction or as a server.
You can ask your doctor to fill out a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) evaluation, which looks at how much physical work you’re able to do with your disability. This will be the primary piece of evidence the SSA uses when approving claimants via a medical-vocational allowance.
Starting your application
Most claimants can complete the entire Social Security disability application online. If you’d prefer to apply with the help of a Social Security representative, you can do so at your closest SSA office. There are approximately 1,300 SSA offices located across the country. It should take three to five months to hear back from the SSA regarding your claim.
Social Security benefits for diabetes: helpful links
• SSA: https://www.ssa.gov/
• Qualify with an amputation: https://www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org/how-to/apply-with-amputation
• Medical-vocational allowance: https://www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org/glossary/medical-vocational-allowance
• Download an RFC: https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms/images/SSA4/G-SSA-4734-U8-1.pdf
• Apply online: https://secure.ssa.gov/iClaim/dib
Want to learn more about diabetes and money matters? Read “Health Insurance for Diabetes Management” and “Do’s and Don’t’s for Saving Money With Diabetes.”