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Is Type 1 Diabetes a Disability Under Social Security?

The simple answer is yes. Both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes can qualify someone for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. The determination of whether your SSD benefits claim is approved is based on how severely the disease affects your normal functioning and your ability to perform work.

At London Disability, Attorney Scott London and his team of expert disability advocates work full-time representing disabled clients getting them the highest level of SSD benefits possible in each case. By concentrating 100% of their professional expertise on disability claims, London Disability Advocates know every rule and regulation, every procedure, and every argument that can be used to support your Social Security Disability claim. We know how to win a Diabetes disability claim.

How Diabetes Qualifies at a Disability

Like many serious diseases, Diabetes varies in severity from person to person. Many people lead full, active lives and work full-time with a Diabetes diagnosis. Others suffer tremendously from the effects of Diabetes. In this blog post, we explain how to tell where your case falls on this wide spectrum.

Requirements of Every Disability — The Social Security Administration (SSA) applies the same definition of “disability” to every SSD and SSI application. A disability can qualify for benefits when it is a “medically determinable physical or mental impairment that has lasted or is expected to last at least 12 months (or result in death), and that prevents the claimant from performing substantial gainful activities.”

By “substantial gainful activities,” the SSA means to say that your impairment prevents you from earning more income in a month than is allowed under the SSD program. In 2022, that monthly income eligibility ceiling is $1,350.

Diabetes Is Recognized in the Disability “Blue Book” — The SSA publishes a manual in which it lists categories of illnesses and injuries that it recognizes as qualifying disabilities when the impairment meets certain criteria. The Blue Book listing of Diabetes is found under endocrine-related impairments in Part A, Section 9.00.

For either Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes to be approved as sufficiently severe to support your SSD benefits claim, your medical records, doctor’s reports, and other supporting material need to show one of the following findings:

Diagnosis of Diabetes mellitus and one of the following conditions:

  • Diabetic acidosis (DKA meaning Diabetic Ketoacidosis)
  • Neuropathy
  • Diabetic Retinopathy

Medical records, blood panels, and test results need to accompany the doctor’s diagnosis to support their findings of the claimed impairment. When we look at each of these Diabetes-related conditions, we can see how the SSA focuses on your ability to function with Diabetes rather than on the diagnosis alone.

Diabetic Acidosis:

Diabetes is caused by the pancreas producing either too little or no insulin. Insulin is your body's tool to allow sugar (glucose) to enter the cells in your body to feed muscles and other tissues. When your body can’t break down sugar to produce energy, your body looks elsewhere and begins to consume fat cells, a process that creates an acidic product called ketones. This overproduction of ketone acids is called ketoacidosis. The result is fatigue, shortness of breath, confusion, excessive thirst, and even vomiting. Untreated Diabetic acidosis can be fatal.


Diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage caused by excessively high glucose in your blood. Neuropathy from Diabetes is most often experienced in the legs and feet of the sufferer and is painful enough to result in a sustained disturbance in their ability to walk or even stand. Some people experience neuropathy in their digestive system or their hips, or they may have focal neuropathy causing pain and vision loss in their eyes.


Diabetic Retinopathy occurs in people whose Diabetes damaged the blood vessels in their eyes. It causes the person to progressively lose peripheral vision. If retinopathy is the Diabetes related impairment on which your SSD claim is based, the condition would need to leave your vision impaired enough to be considered nearly blind.

Summary of Diabetes and Social Security Disability

As you read in this blog post, the Social Security Administration uses the functional limitations caused by your Diabetes to determine whether your symptoms and impairments reach the level of “disability.” Remember, your impairment and its disabling effect must last or be expected to last for one year. If your condition improves because of better dietary compliance or effective treatment, your eligibility can be reviewed periodically, usually no more than every 18 months.

Diabetes of both types, Type I which was once referred to as Juvenile Diabetes, and Type 2, formerly called Adult Diabetes, are serious illnesses that can certainly result in a permanent disability. Social Security Disability benefits are available to anyone whose Diabetes symptoms are medically supported and whose functional limitations prevent them from being able to work in their normal occupation and who are not likely to adapt to another vocation successfully.

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